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A Tom Little Tip that is about CanoeFM
Maybe a Compliance Officer is the Answer
A year ago I wrote about Canoe FM, a non-profit community radio station in Haliburton. One of its unique features is its approach to voting members. At Canoe, you are only eligible to be a member and to vote if you put in at least 50 hours of volunteer work over the year prior.
My colleague Nancy Moulsdale and I returned to Canoe FM recently to work with the Board on training. In the course of our discussion, we were advised that Canoe has put in place the position of Compliance Officer, which we thought was a concept worth sharing.
One of the key risks that non-profits are exposed to is lack of compliance with legislation that impacts on the organization. This starts with the Corporations Act, but includes other acts as well. Here is a list of some of those acts, with notations beside those that to the best of our knowledge contain clauses that impose personal liability on Board members.
- Income Tax Act (imposes personal liability on Directors)
- Employment Insurance Act (imposes personal liability on Directors)
- Canada Pension Plan (imposes personal liability on Directors)
- Excise Tax Act (imposes personal liability on Directors re HST)
- Anti-Terrorism Act
- Employment Standards Act
- Retail Sales Tax Act
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Act
- Pensions Benefits Act
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Charities Accounting Act
- Human Rights Code
- Access to Information and Privacy Act
- Environmental Protection Act
- Child and Family Services Act (imposes personal liability on Directors)
- Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons With Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 (imposes personal liability on Directors)
- Contracts (government funding, capital projects, facilities, equipment, vehicles, supplies, services, staffing)
Canoe FM is impacted by most of the above, as well as the requirements of the CRTC, which licenses it. Because Canoe FM has only a small staff and therefore does much of its work through the use of volunteers, it has drawn from its volunteer pool to fill the role of Compliance Officer. That person reports to the Station Manager, who in turn reports to the Board. Other non-profits and charities might prefer to make this an Officer position of the Board, to be filled either by a Board member or an employee.
Canoe FM describes the position of Compliance Officer as being responsible for overseeing and managing compliance to all applicable laws. Duties of the position include to:
- Keep abreast of the statutes, regulations and guidelines of all compliance agencies
- Periodically review and recommend updates of policies and procedures to ensure they are current
- Develop and keep current schedule of deadlines of compliance agencies
- Develop and update as necessary check off list of required compliance activities
- Search for and compile data related to compliance records
- Monitor compliance activities and report violations
- Provide reports on a regular basis or as directed or requested
- Work with the Station Manager to ensure all volunteers/employees are informed and follow all areas of compliance program
- Develop and keep current manual for Compliance Officer position
The BIG Idea
A lot of Boards will like Canoe FM’s approach to compliance and take comfort in knowing someone has the specific duty to watch out for all the compliance requirements facing the organization. If that is important, you can put your Board at ease by creating a Compliance Officer position of the Board. Officers can be either Board members or employees, so you can go either way with assigning it out, depending on your predilection.
If you want a quick resource on legislation that impacts on charities, consider forking out for Charities Legislation & Commentary, 2016 Edition, co-edited by Terrance S. Carter, Maria Elena Hoffstein and Adam M. Parachin or The Law of Charitable and Not-for-Profit Organizations, 5th Edition, by Donald J. Bourgeois (Author). Both are published by LexisNexis. Or you can Google your way through each piece of legislation and then the contractual documents your organization is committed to. You might even find summaries that define the responsibilities and liabilities of the Board of Directors related to each.
Here’s another approach that might work. Collaborate with other similar organizations to undertake this work. You are all impacted by the same legislation, so why duplicate? You could also call on associations in which you hold membership to do this on your behalf. Share the load if you can.