From the Hartford Courant, October 7th, 2009
“Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday asked the governor for an accounting of funds from specialty state license plates, saying at least $500,000 has been illegally diverted to Connecticut’s General Fund to help balance the state’s troubled budget……Usurping donor intent after the state solicits and receives such contributions is forbidden by constitutional law, fairness, and common sense, Blumenthal said.”
And so it goes. Not that this is new. Too often, as highlighted in my post of Sept 25th, the ones raising the money and the ones spending the money in an NPO, have mutually exclusive goals. This tension always exists but appears to increase as the economy forces nonprofits to make some critical operating decisions. And when the decisions are driven by personal gain it becomes all the more egregious. Not that Rell has personal gain in this, but the lack of respect and the hubris in the assumption of donated funds as a free checkbook is disturbing and all too common.
If you are on a Board of Trustees you need to become more empowered in your governance role. Ask questions and expect answers. And if it’s still not clear ask some more. Do not allow the administration to appease you with arguments of their managerial control and administrative duties vs your role in governance. Ensuring the intent of donor funds is honored is governance.
If you are administering an NPO, check your intentions. If indeed decisions need to be made about donor funds, and the use of such funds that are not in compliance with donor intent, you still have recourse. Go back to the donor or donors and explain the need. Ask permission. Seek counsel from the AG’s office. And if you find you still cannot use the funds to solve the financial issue, then build a case for more donations to meet your need.
Yes, it’s hard work, but that’s our role.