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Advice from Outside the Square

Managing Indigenous Organisations

Make Your Indigenous Corporation Board “Smarter”

If all the Directors on your Board and all the other leaders in your Indigenous corporation are of a similar profile, it's time to expand your ideas about diversity. Diversity is not just about balancing the genders and the ages because if all your Directors share the same background - hard not to in an Indigenous context - you need more diversity for better all-round decision-making processes. Indigenous corporations have evolved from "associations" incorporated under the old Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976. They now have their own Corporations Act (the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006) which was intentionally drafted to mirror the mainstream Corporations Act 2001 along with the duties, responsibilities and penalties attached to mainstream corporate governance. Indigenous corporations have had to deal with more complex and non-local issues, particularly as many hold important assets as Native Title PBC's or as commercial arms of Native Title determinations and other royalty agreements. As a result, the perspectives that Directors need in decision-making have also evolved. While the need to remain connected to cultural imperatives and understand the stakeholders is still a key factor in all Boards' decisions, increasingly, Indigenous Boards need to understand the Law, Agreement-making, commercial opportunity, financial...
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How To Write Your Not-For-Profit Strategic Plan

There is broad agreement among not-for-profit leaders and experts that planning is a critical component of good management and governance. Planning helps ensure that an organisation remains relevant and responsive to the needs of its community, and contributes to organisational stability and growth. It provides a basis for monitoring progress, and for assessing results and impact. It facilitates new program development. It enables an organisation to look into the future in an orderly and systematic way. From a governance perspective, it enables the Board to set policies and goals to guide the organisation and provides a clear focus to the Executive Director and staff for program implementation and agency management. Most organisations understand the need for annual program objectives and a program-focused work plan. Funders require them, and they provide a basis for setting priorities, organizing work, and assessing progress. A growing number of community-based organisations go beyond funder requirements to develop annual objectives and operating plans which also include a systematic plan for resource development, organisational development, and in some cases Board development. Most groups find it practical to define objectives for a 12-month period, and to design strategies and programs to meet them. Longer-range planning – planning beyond the next...
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Good Partnerships Start With Good Preparation

As Indigenous organisations manoeuvre into social enterprises, or commercial businesses, into a world that many of them do not have experience of, they take the logical step of setting up partnerships with more experienced organisations or businesses. This partnership approach has many advantages - it allows one partner to mentor the other and allow the less experienced organisation to gain experience while mitigating risk. It reduces the cost of the investment, it allows the two partner organisations to bring different strengths to the table, and it scales the business or project beyond what one organisation alone is unable to do. There is one other major advantage to the Indigenous organisation, and that is that it allows that organisation to gradually buy out the partner thus giving time to build resources and experience. However, not all partnerships end well! (more…)...
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10 Ways To Boost Board Diversity

When I am consulting to Indigenous organisations, one of the most talked about issues is how they can create diversity in their Boards in order to better reflect their members and their activities. In fact, from the perspective of Director accountability and succession-planning, it is deserving of the spotlight. Board member renewal and the meeting of required skills matrices is a matter, not only for the Selection Committee but for the whole Board. When Board composition is at best-practice, so is the work of the Board. So what factors should you consider when your Board thinks about Board diversity and composition? (more…)...
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