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Council of Trustees Governance Guidelines | Council Responsibilities | Self-Assessment


In keeping with the organic mission and values articulated in the Foundation’s Strategic Plan, this document is an on-going effort by The FUSION Foundation Council of Trustees to ensure best practices in good governance among its councils, to empower, inspire excellence and educate throughout our communities and to aid Council members in implementing and supporting The FUSION Foundation’s Strategic Goals.



This document has been amended from:

Ingram, Richard T. Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Councils, 2nd Edition.  

     Washington, DC:  CouncilSource, 2009.

and edited by:

annie loyd, Founder, The FUSION Foundation; and

Jodi Powers, Secretary, The FUSION Foundation



Ensuring effective governance of the organization is the most important responsibility facing Council members. Understanding governance helps Council members fulfill their collective responsibility to the organization.

Governance is the activity performed by an entity (such as a board, a city council, or a legislature) that confers the vision of the organization, moves the mission forward and remains accountable to the stakeholders. The FUSION Foundation is a public charity. A public charity is defined as a charity that is deemed to receive the major part of its support from the public. The FUSION Foundation Council of Trustees believes we serve the public and are are accountable to our immediate stakeholders who comprise the guiding council and second the greater community we exist to serve. The Council is authorized to make decisions and set policies that define how the organization will carry out its mission; it is also held accountable for the actions that follow from those decisions and policies. The Council then governs the organization.

Governance is group action. Individual Council members do not govern the organization; rather, meeting as a group confers governing status to the Council as a whole. Governance implies the conveyance of power and authority from the body of those we serve, on behalf of the mission and purpose, in alignment with the vision throughout the organization on behalf of the community we serves.

In an ongoing effort to empower, inspire and educate excellence and practice the highest standards of wise governance, The Ten Basic Council Responsibilities, Individual Council Member Responsibilities and Council Self Evaluations are presented in this document.  



1.Review and support a statement of core purpose and values that articulates the organization’s goals, means, and primary constituents served.

2.Select, support and evaluate the President.  In responding to the need to appoint a new President, the Council must reach consensus on the President’s responsibilities and undertake a careful search to find the most qualified individual for the position.

3.Ensure that the President has the encouragement, endorsement and support he/she needs to further the goals of the organization.

4.Support effective long-term strategic planning, including support of the Strategic Plan adopted by the Council on October 16, 2009.  The Council should participate in the overall planning process and assist in implementing and monitoring the Plan’s goals.

5.Monitor and strengthen academic and student development as well as admissions or related programs and services.

6.Ensure adequate financial resources.  One of the Council’s foremost responsibilities is to support all efforts to provide adequate resources for the organization to fulfill its mission and to move forward in accomplishing goals of its Strategic Plan. 

7.Protect the organization’s assets and provide financial oversight, including support of the financial model developed in accordance with the Strategic Plan.

8.Enhance the organization’s public standing.  Council members should clearly articulate the organization’s mission, accomplishments, and goals to the public and garner support from the community and the many campus constituencies.

9.Support efforts to maintain legal standards and ethical norms for all Council transactions.

10.Maintain a competent Council.  Council members have a responsibility to assist with the orientation of new members, and each member should periodically and comprehensively conduct an annual self-evaluation of his/her own performance as a Council member.




•Know the organization’s core purpose and values, goals, policies, programs, services, strengths, and needs, especially as specified in its Strategic Plan.

•Serve in leadership positions and undertake special assignments willingly and enthusiastically.

•Never violate any law, rule, or regulation pertaining to membership on the Council.

•Follow trends in public service and keep informed.

•Bring goodwill and a sense of humor to the Council’s deliberations.



•Prepare for and conscientiously participate in Council and committee meetings, including appropriate organizational activities when possible.

•Ask timely and substantive questions at Council and committee meetings, consistent with individual conscience and convictions, while supporting the majority decision on issues decided by the council.

•Maintain confidentiality of the Council’s executive sessions and of any confidential information provided. Never speak for the Council or organization unless authorized to do so, but also remember that all utterances from Council members carry great weight with those within and outside of the organization.

•Suggest Council and committee meeting agenda items to Council committee chairs and the Chairperson to ensure that significant, policy-related and strategic matters are discussed.



•Serve the organization as a whole rather than any special interest group or constituency. A Council member’s first obligation is to avoid any preconception of “representing” anything other than the overall organization’s best interests.

•Avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest; disclose any possible conflicts to the Council in a timely fashion.

•Maintain independence and objectivity and do what a sense of fairness, ethics, and personal integrity dictate, even though not necessarily obliged to do so by law, regulation, or custom.

•Never accept (or offer) favors or gifts from (or to) anyone who does business with the organization.



•At all times, exercise prudence in the control and transfer of funds.

•Faithfully read and understand the organization’s financial statements and otherwise help the Council fulfill its fiduciary responsibility.



•Support the organization’s unrestricted annual fund as well as restricted programs/projects in line with individual interests and personal means.  

•Remember, giving one’s time and expertise, as important as they are, are not substitutes for providing financial support according to one’s capacity.



•Serve the organization responsibly and diligently by telling the organization’s story and presenting its accomplishments as well as its needs and current challenges. You are your organization’s logo.

•Serve your community as well by bringing its concerns, ideas, suggestions, compliments, and the like to the attention of the Council when they have merit.  Remember, as a Council member, you are at the nexus of two-way communication.



Service on the Council of Trustees of The FUSION Foundation is both an honor and a responsibility.  Performing a self-evaluation is important because the Council strives to achieve the highest possible levels of commitment and performance for itself and for its members. The purpose of the self-evaluation is for each Council member to have a clear understanding of how he/she views individual experiences and contributions to the Council’s work and responsibilities. The exercise also gives each member the opportunity to consider and recommend suggestions for the organization to take fuller advantage of his/her talents and interests. It will be the decision of each individual Council member whether or not to share this evaluation with the Council Chair to assist the Council in its ongoing efforts to execute best practices and higher education excellence as well as effective implementation of the Strategic Plan.



1.As a trustee, are you reasonably clear about what is expected of you?

  ____Yes ____No   Comment?

2.Do you believe the individual Council member responsibilities constitute a reasonable set of expectations and benchmarks?

  ____Yes ____No   Comment?

3.What aspects of your Council membership have been the most satisfying to you?

4.What aspect of your service on the Council has been the least satisfying and enjoyable?

5.With regard to your current committee assignments(s), how satisfying are your current committee assignments? Do you wish to be considered for a change in committee assignment in the next bi-annual committee reassignment period?

6.Are you satisfied with your attendance

    •at Council meetings?

         ____Yes ____No   Comment?

    •at committee meetings?

         ____Yes ____No   Comment?

7.Are you satisfied with your personal commitment

    •to the Council’s annual goal in its unrestricted collective giving?

         ____Yes ____No   Comment?

    •to the organization’s current campaign, project, or other restricted purpose that is of special interest to you personally?

         ____Yes ____No   Comment?

    •to helping the development staff identify or cultivate prospective individual, corporate, or foundation donors?

         ____Yes ____No   Comment?

8.Do you faithfully prepare for meetings by reading the materials provided in advance?

____Yes ____No   Comment?

9.Do you have a good grasp of the organization’s financial condition, needs, and priorities?

____Yes ____No   Comment?

10.Have you suggested an agenda item or issue to a committee chair, the Council chair, or President for consideration?

____Yes ____No   Comment?

11.Have you taken advantage of any opportunities to tell others about our organization’s work, programs, and services within the past few years?

____Yes ____No   Comment?

12.Do you consider yourself to be an active participant in Council and committee meetings?

____Yes ____No   Comment?

13.Do you faithfully respect the need for trustees to maintain confidentiality of the Council’s deliberations and certain information provided to you?

____Yes ____No   Comment?

14.Are you satisfied that you consistently exercise objective and independent judgment for the organization as a whole and not only for particular part(s) of it?

____Yes ____No   Comment?

15.Have you faithfully considered any and all possible conflict of interest issues in regards to your Council service?

____Yes ____No   Comment?

16.Select one to three personal goals to broaden your service to the Council of Trustees and The FUSION Foundation for next year.

17.Select one to three suggested goals for a particular organizational office or department and/or for the organization as a whole for the President and Council to consider for next year.

18.What have you done to further the objectives of the Strategic Plan?

19.Please consider any closing comments or suggestions concerning your Council service and how the Council as a whole might strengthen its effectiveness.

This document has been amended from:

Ingram, Richard T. Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Councils: 2nd Edition. Washington DC: Board Source, 2009.

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