The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre's latest governance program, The Ripple Effect: Governance education for faith-based organisations, aims to develop interactive, relevant and readily accessible governance information for Victoria's diverse faith-based communities.
Funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board Community Grants initiative, the program has brought together a cohort of 10 interfaith leaders from six different faith groups. It will enhance their governance knowledge and skills and equip them to deliver interactive workshops on key governance topics back to their communities.
The formal work started with a half-day workshop in February on leadership and governance in not-for-profits. The group then reconvened in March to delve further into key governance issues such as managing risk, conflicts of interest and how to be effective office bearers.
Over the next six months, Ripple Effect participants will take their knowledge back to their communities and run governance workshops with the boards of their organisations and other organisations within their faith-based communities.
The rationale for the program is that governance among faith-based organisations, like for many non-for-profit organisations, is often a work in progress. By creating tailored governance resources and providing formal training to faith-based organisations, Sir Zelman Cowen Centre hopes to help them, over time, cultivate a culture of governance excellence.
So far, the program’s tailored training packages have focused on:
- legal responsibilities for office-bearers
- different legal structures for not-for-profit organisations
- the role and function of a board
- an organisation’s key governance documents
- how to manage conflicts of interests, and
- how to understand and manage risk.
Reflecting on the program, participant Elka Gaensler, Director of the Council for Orthodox Synagogues, described it as "a worthwhile experience and opportunity", which will help her build the confidence and capacity of the synagogues with which she works.