Today I had a frank discussion with the president of a P&C with a combined turnover of circa $500k from it’s after school care, canteen and uniform activities. Like many P&C’s, they have had their fair share of challenges in managing the P&C’s activities, volunteers and in reporting efficiently, concisely and appropriately.

Last year they were audited and found to be at significant risk due to lack of governance process; mainly around financial reporting, process transparency, continuity and general compliance around record keeping. This is an all too familiar conversation I am having with not only P&C groups, but with many smaller community based organisations who; for the most part, are trying to do the right thing, but are falling short and putting themselves and stakeholders at significant risk.

It is perhaps not yet widely accepted, that there lies significant risk within the volunteer run community based sector. The mere fact that organisations are in some cases either unable to provide a clear paper trail or have to spend many hours evidencing and compiling such trails, suggests that there may be several ticking time bombs waiting to explode.

Acceptance of the existence of potential risk is certainly one of the first steps committees need to address. Identifying these risks and the possible impacts should follow closely thereafter; including what tools and processes are needed to ensure risks are mitigated. I’d be very interested to hear from other community based groups or those currently sitting on a board or committee who have either experienced similar challenges in ensuring their governance processes are adequate and also whether you feel there is enough support or tools available to support you.

What steps did your group take to ensure your governance and compliance measures were sufficient?

Did the steps taken to improve governance and compliance ultimately reduce risk?

Did the steps go far enough or do you still have concerns that the process may not have been as effective as it needs to be?

Are you satisfied you are using the correct tools to ensure ongoing governance and compliance is improved?