For your association to function well, it is important that you have sound governance in place. Governance is what keeps your association functioning as it is. Just as your human body is comprised of several structures, systems and processes (such as the skeleton, the circulatory system and the process of digestion), so is your association comprised of structures, systems and processes to keep it alive and functional. A defect in any of these aspects would render your association malfunctioning (or in the case of human body, ill) All these structures, systems and processes that work together to keep your association functioning is what is collectively referred to as Governance in this section. Governance is therefore not just an activity by itself but an inherent part of your association. It refers to the processes by which your association is operated, guided and held to account. It involves authority, accountability, leadership, direction and control. It determines your long-term viability, survival and relevance. A healthy association is one that has sound governance.
Sound governance enables your association to stay relevant through performance and to stay alive through compliance. Performance is a series of events that starts with planning, goes through a series of reporting and culminates in feedback. Compliance refers to fulfilling requirements of legislation, contracts, taxation, insurance, pension and many more. Sound governance requires both efficiency and effectiveness. Effective means doing the right things while Efficient means doing things the right way.
The complexity of governance procedures and practices are as varied as the number of organizations on earth and there’s no ready-made off-the-shelf solution to suit all associations. However, there are principles of good governance that are essential for your long-term viability as an association. Such principles include having defined goals, transparency in decision making, sound framework of procedures and policies, defining roles and responsibilities, strategic planning, risk management, legal and statutory responsibilities, review and monitoring of performance, ethical standards and codes of conduct.
Sound governance therefore determines the quality of our existence, enables us to function as responsible members of the society and offers security to all our stakeholders such as members, employees, donors, volunteers, public etc.
3.2 FORMING ALUMNI ASSOCIATIONS
There are 3 key/ broad objectives for any alumni association
Supporting the parent organization (in this case your college)
Building a strong community (strengthening the ties between and amongst the alumni, the community and the college)
Delivering value to the larger society or community within which you operate
Steps to forming an Alumni Association
Form an Interest Group
Obtain list of contacts from the college
Identify key alumni to support the initiative
Arrange informal sessions with them
Directly ask for their participation in starting the association
Send an introductory message to all alumni, introducing them to the leader, requesting them to update their contact information and asking for volunteers to join the committee
Form an interest group from the alumni who respond or volunteer
Convene a meeting of interested alumni to agree on the objectives of the association and form a committee
Sample Agenda could include: introductions, general appraisal of the goals and concept of the Alumni Association, Outline functions of the association, identify short & long-term needs, nomination of officials & delegated committees and date for next meeting
Preparing the constitution
A committee can prepare the constitution to be adopted in the next meeting
The constitution should cover objectives, membership, officers, committees, general meetings, funds, etc.
Convene a follow-up meeting to ratify and adopt the constitution, officials and any other issues
Aim to achieve a bigger attendance than the first meeting
Organize a launch event. Invite college administrator or representative
Invite all alumni in your contacts to attend
Orientate first time attendees as well
1.1.1 Registering the Alumni Association
You may choose to register your alumni association in any of the following ways. Each of these options have their advantages and disadvantages. Review your unique circumstances to determine the best option for your association. The structure and governance of your alumni association will be dependent on your mission and the mode of registration. You may find relevant laws, resources, forms and procedures about each type of organization from the links provided. It is however much simpler and more common to register your association as a Society under the Societies Act.
Non-Governmental Organization/ Public Benefit Organization
This is voluntary grouping of individuals or associations, formed for charity
Company Limited by Guarantee
This is a company whose liability is limited by the guarantee of the members.
A society is any group of ten or more persons registered and regulated by the Registrar of Societies
A trust is an entity created to hold and manage assets for the benefit of others.
To register as a Society, you will require the following:
- A list of designated members (10 members minimum);
- The names, occupation and postal addresses of the officials: Chairman, treasurer and secretary;
- Constitution of the society which must contain name, postal address and objects of the society;
- Application form A and B each in duplicate signed by three of the officers.
The procedure of registration will include
- Name search – A name search is conducted to determine whether proposed names are available for registration.
- Preparation of the constitution and filling the registration Forms A and B
- Submitting the documents for registration purposes.
- Being issued with a certificate of registration
You will then be expected to file annual returns, and pay a nominal fee based on the number of your members
3.3 CONDUCTING ALUMNI MEETINGS
There are different types of meetings for Alumni Associations such as the Annual General Meeting, Committee Meetings, Project Team Meetings, Workshops and Networking events. All these meetings are unique in their own rights and require tact in order to achieve their intended objective efficiently, while keeping members engaged and included.
Different meetings are conducted in different ways; however, the following are key factors for you to consider in order to conduct successful alumni meetings
Stage of Meeting
Make sure that the goal or intention and the desired outcome of the meeting is clear to everyone as you plan. This makes it easy for you to set the agenda
Find the most suitable time and venue when all or most attendees are available and can access. This makes it easy for you to have quorum. Make sure to mobilize attendance
Order your agenda in a manner that will help you accomplish the objective of your meeting
Ensure maximum participation and assign roles to each attendee – e.g. allocate roles like facilitating, participating, documenting and time-keeping to the attendees and establish some ground rules to keep the meeting productive
Share the minutes, the resolutions and keep track of action items. Make sure to follow-through each action plan
You may use the framework template below to clarify your meetings by answering the questions in each column of the template
Intention of the Meting
What is the intention, or purpose, of the meeting? In other words, why have it?
What specific outcomes should be achieved by the end of the meeting?
What activities will the group go through, in what order, to move toward the desired outcome?
What roles or responsibilities need to be in place for the meeting to run smoothly? Who is facilitating, and who is participating? Who is documenting, and who is keeping track of the time? What do you expect of the participants?
What guidelines will be in place during the meeting? These could relate to agreed group norms. They could also relate to use of laptops/mobiles, or practical rules related to a space. Let the participants add rules to ensure that they have ownership of them.
What is the expected time for the meeting, including breaks, and at what time will the meeting end?
3.4 ESTABLISHING EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP
Leadership can make or break your association. As such you need to pull all stops to ensure you have in place suitable, effective and recognizable leadership for your association. While the process of putting in place leadership for your association is democratic, and guided by your governance structure, the leaders you end up with will determine whether your vision and objectives will be accomplished. Your leaders will provide direction and guide the association in navigating its way towards attaining its objectives. You will need to put in place a framework for determining suitability of individuals that may be allowed to lead your association.
Besides the general qualities of good leadership, some of the factors you may need to consider when searching for leaders for your association would include
- Clarity of the leadership role – Is the leadership role well defined including duties and responsibilities of the role?
- Capacity of the individual to fulfil the role –
- Does the individual have capacity to fulfil that role?
- Do they meet basic minimum requirements such as being a member of your association in good standing? Being able to meet their own financial commitments? Being able to contribute to the association? Having a respectable profile? Do they understand the mission of your association and are they committed to your constitution? Are they passionate and committed to serve sacrificially?
- Do they have the relevant knowledge, qualifications and skills necessary to fulfil the role?
- Performance Track Record – has the individual demonstrated desirable performance in their previous engagements?
- Popularity – is the individual popular among the membership? Can he influence them easily?
The framework below can assist you in clarifying the roles and qualities required when recruiting members of the board
Background of the Board (a brief on its role and importance for the Association)
Constitutional Functions of the Board (what roles and responsibilities does the current constitution provide for the board?)
Additional Roles and Responsibilities of the Board (apart from the above roles, what else do you see as functions that should be performed by the board?)
Composition of the Board (How is the board currently constituted or how would you like it to be constituted? i.e. number of people and positions)
Suggested/Proposed Board Members (who are people suggested to join board and in what capacities?)
Recruiting a New Board (What is procedure and conditions provided by constitution for recruiting board? What are steps to be followed?)
General Remarks (any or information worth noting in relation to board and its functions or mode of operation?)
3.5 MANAGING TRANSITIONS, ELECTIONS AND NOMINATIONS
When planning for transitions it is important to align the incoming leadership to the needs of the association by identifying current and future needs and mapping them to the corresponding leadership qualities, skills and experience that would be required to fulfil those needs. You then need to identify individuals that possess those leadership qualities, skills and experience; vet their suitability for your association; cultivate their interest in your association; and when they are ready to serve, nominate them for elections into leadership positions.
To ensure your nomination and election process is smooth, effective and successful; you may need to put in place a visionary team whose responsibility is to ensure proper governance of the association. The team would vet prospective leaders to ensure that you are getting the right leaders, they would keep your board in check to ensure the board is properly performing its role and both the leadership and the membership are delivering on their roles as they should. Such a team should ensure there is transparency, inclusiveness, diversity and fairness in the election process.
In order to maintain stability and sustainability of your association, you need to put in place a deliberate plan to cover both anticipated and unexpected transitions. Your plan should be able to address the timely delegation of duties and authority whenever there is an unexpected transition or interruption in key leadership. It should also be able to address continuity and preserve organizational memory.
From the very start, you need to embed the culture of succession planning in your association. You can intentionally and deliberately build a pool of future leaders by providing leadership development opportunities through mentorship programs, coaching, volunteering and cultivating passion for your association.
3.6 LEGAL FRAMEWORK, CONSTITUTIONS, CHARTERS, GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Many associations make the common mistake of simply rushing to a lawyer to draft for them governance documents – in most cases the lawyers just take a template and fill in your particulars; you end up adopting a document which does not serve your purpose. It is highly recommended that you participate in the drafting of your governance documents such as the constitution, guiding principles and charters. When developing these crucial documents, it is important that you get a diversified and balanced perspectives from both experts and non-experts such as governance experts, your association members and experienced individuals that have served in your industry.
These documents are very important as they determine the overall governance structure and processes of your association. As a legal requirement, your association will need a constitution that conforms to the requirements of the regulator. You therefore need to understand your operating environment. For instance, associations are regulated by the Registrar of Societies as set out in the Societies Act of Kenya. Take time to understand the legal framework within which you will operate by familiarizing yourself with the relevant laws governing your association.
Below is a simple framework you may use as a guide when drafting your constitution.
This is what captures the vision, the spirit and the vows/ commitments of the association
CONNECTED to inspire, influence and impact our alumni community, our School and our society:
DETERMINED to mentor and support our students, teachers and each other to fulfil the spirit of our school;
DESIROUS to fulfil the vision of the founders, sponsors and supporters of the school in relation to education, spiritual growth, technical skills, employable knowledge and social cohesiveness;
Do hereby ADOPT, ENACT and GIVE to ourselves and the future generations of our institute this Constitution as the guide for (the Association) on this day of…………………………….
Interpretation of the Constitution and Definition of Terms
This is where the you provide meaning to specific words used in the constitution to avoid vagueness and bring clarity
The terms should be arranged in alphabetical order
This Constitution shall be interpreted in a manner that:
a) Advances the preamble statement and the objectives of this Association.
b) Avoids the technicalities which defeat the purpose and intent of this Constitution.
In this Constitution, unless the context otherwise requires:
c) ‘BoM’ means the Board of Management of (the institution)
d) ‘Committee’ means the Executive Committee as instituted herein…
This is where you declare the name of the association and other particulars such as physical location
1) The name of the Association shall be XXXX (in this Constitution referred to as the Association and abbreviated as “XX”).
Objects of the Association
Here is where you list the reason why the association exists –
The Association shall be apolitical, non-discriminatory and shall have the following aims:
1) To foster links and fellowship between the alumni and the school
2) To promote, improve and protect the interests of the school and of the alumni
Here is where you define the membership of the association
Who qualifies to be a member? What are the categories of membership? How do people become members? How do people cease to be members? Are there any fees paid?
1) There shall be five (5) categories of Membership as follows:
a) Ordinary Membership: is open to ….
b) Life Membership: is open to ….
2) Membership to the association may cease in any of the following ways
a) Resignation: Any Member wishing to resign shall ….
Expulsion: A Member may be expelled from Membership if ….
Rights and Obligations of Members
Here is where you spell out the rights and obligations of members
1) Every member shall have the right to:
a) be heard, provided such a right shall not infringe on the rights of others.
b) receive or enjoy services that the members have and may jointly develop and subscribe to from time to time.
c) review the books of account and all documents relating thereto and a list of members of the…
2) Every member shall be obliged to:
a) abide by this Constitution and any resolution that may be made from time to time in accordance with this Constitution.
b) at all times, conduct themselves in an orderly and respectful manner that promotes unity, harmony, and trust.
If your association intends to have a patron, this is the place you make provisions for that – who qualifies to be a patron, how are they appointed, what is their role and how do get removed?
The Honorary Patrons of the Association shall be proposed by the Committee from amongst eminent and distinguished members of the society who have demonstrated exemplary support to the School; and confirmed by the Annual General Meeting….
The Honorary Patrons shall serve for a single term of 5 years and may be removed by resignation or by a vote of…
Here is where you define the office bearers, how they get elected and how they cease to be office bearers
1) The Office Bearers of the Association shall be:
a) The Chairperson
b) The Vice Chairperson
c) The Treasurer
d) The Secretary
2) All Office Bearers shall be Ordinary or Life Members of the Association in good standing and shall be elected at an Annual General meeting.
3) All Office Bearers shall hold office for a period of three years…
4) Any Office Bearer who ceases to be a Member of the Association shall automatically cease to be an Office Bearer thereof.
Duties and Responsibilities of Office Bearers
Here is where you spell out the roles and responsibilities of the Office Bearers
1) The Chairperson shall, unless prevented by illness or other sufficient cause,
a) preside over the General Meetings and the Committee meetings.
b) have general charge over the affairs of the Association, oversee the
2) The Treasurer shall
a) receive and also disburse, under the directions of the Committee, all monies belonging to the Association
b) maintain proper records of all monies received, paid and all transactions entered into relating to the Association.
Here is where you define the Board that will run the association
1) The Board shall consist of:
a) the Office Bearers of the Association and
b) five other members elected at an Annual General Meeting as set out…
2) The Board shall be responsible for the management of the Association, and for that purpose, may give directions to the Office Bearers as to the way, within the law, they shall perform their duties…
3) The Board shall meet not less than four times in any one year
a) The quorum of a Committee meeting shall not be less than 5 of the elected members of the Committee;
If you intend to have chapters you can provide for them in this section
1) Chapters of the Association may be formed with the approval of the Executive Committee and in accordance with the relevant laws governing the Association.
2) Chapters shall abide by the Spirit and Provisions of this Constitution and shall be subject to t….
This is where you define the General Meeting, the conduct of the general meeting, agenda…
1) There shall be two classes of General Meetings –
a) Annual General Meetings, and
b) Special General Meetings.
The Annual General Meeting shall be held not later than….
This is where you specify the manner and use of funds of the association
The income of the Association shall be derived from:
a) Membership fees
The funds of the Association may only be used for the purpose of furthering the objects of the Association….
The financial year of the Association shall be from 1st January to 31st December….
This is where you spell out how the records of the association shall be handled
1) The books of accounts and all documents relating to and a list of members of the Association shall be available for inspection at the headquarters of the Association by any officer or member of the Association on giving not less than (14) days’ notice in writing to the Association.
2) The records of accounts of the Association shall be audited only by the Association’s auditors.
You can provide for the auditor, their terms and how they are appointed
The Committee shall nominate an independent Auditor for appointment by Annual General Meetings.
The Auditor shall not be a member of the Committee or any subcommittee.…
Provide for how amendments may be done to the constitution – what’s the procedure?
Amendments to the Constitution of the Association must be approved by at least two thirds majority of the Members present at a General Meeting and eligible to vote…
What happens when the association gets dissolved?
The Association shall not be dissolved except by a resolution passed at a General meeting of Members by a vote of 75% of the Members present and eligible to vote.
The quorum at the meeting shall be at least 50% of the Members of the Association.
If no quorum is obtained, the proposal to dissolve the Association shall be submitted to a further General Meeting which shall be held one month later. Notice of this meeting shall be given to all Members of the Association at…
Your governance structure should be able to encourage accountability, transparency, participation, inclusivity, efficiency, consensus, responsiveness and rule of law. Here is a sample governance framework for a high school alumni association that you can use as a basis when forming your association
3.7 COMPLIANCE & STATUTORY OBLIGATIONS
Being compliant to your own regulations as well as being compliant to government regulations is important for your survival and reputation as an association.
In order to meet your obligations, it is important that you are self-aware, aware of your operating environment and constructively engaging with various stakeholders.
It is recommended that you maintain essential governance practices, and adopt innovative practices while staying compliant to the law. Some of the best practices you may need to consider, especially for your leadership team include adopting term limits for your leadership teams, ensuring meetings are conducted regularly and well attended; conducting regular audits; strategic planning; budgeting; performance evaluation and role descriptions for each member.
You will also be required to file your annual tax returns and society returns as well as comply with other acts and laws such as the data protection act.
3.8 STRATEGIC PLANNING, REVIEW AND IMPLEMENTATION
Strategic Plans enable you to stay true to your mission and focused on your goals. It enables your association to achieve its objectives by prioritizing your resources and aligning them to your mission.
A good strategy should be effective, organized, actionable, and tailored to your needs. It should also provide a framework for handling challenges when they arise.
To create a strategic plan, you will need to identify the reasons for planning, and gather information from internal and external stakeholders; assess the current situation accurately, and agree on priorities, mission, values, and vision of your association. You will then need to prioritize goals and objectives for the plan, and develop a detailed implementation strategy.
As you implement your strategy, make sure to evaluate and monitor your operating environment for any changes that may require you to review the plan, or make relevant adjustments such as updating roles, goals, and parameters of the strategy.
You will need various approaches to strategic planning based on your circumstances such as when you are planning for growth, when your internal management conditions are turbulent, when your operating environment is troublesome or unpredictable, when you are experiencing a crisis, etc.
Below are a few samples, tools and frameworks that you may consider using to help you in your strategic plan
1.1.1 Key Components of your Strategic Plan
Your Strategic Plan needs to be very clear and can be used as a tool to communicate what your association is all about. It can be a powerful tool for rallying your members behind your mission and getting the much-needed support from your stakeholders. Below is a standard framework you can use in putting together your strategic plan
1.1.2 SWOT Analysis
One of the tools you can use to identify your needs and determine your position during the strategic planning cycle is the SWOT framework. Use the framework to list your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. You will then have these in mind while formulating your plan
1.1.3 Stakeholders Analysis
You stakeholders will provide valuable input and support to the association, it is important that you identify their needs and account for that in your strategic planning. Use the template below to clarify your stakeholder expectations, needs and value to the association
CATEGORY & PRIORITY
NAME & DESCRIPTION
THEIR NEEDS & WHAT THEY EXPECT FROM US
THEIR VALUE TO US
OUR EXPECTATIONS OF THEM
1.1.4 Framework for Goal Setting – Smart Goals
When setting goals during your strategic planning, consider making smart goals. Smart goals are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. The framework below can help you clarify your goals and make them easier to execute
What do you want to accomplish
How will you know when you have accomplished your goal?
How can the goal be accomplished?
Will the goal meet your short-term and long-term needs?
When will the goal be accomplished?
1.1.5 Strategic priorities, focus areas, expected outcomes, actions and key performance indicators
The template below can help you to crystalize your plan into actionable items that would help you to achieve your goals within given timelines
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
Focus Area 1.1
1. Action 1
2. Action 2
3. Action 3
4. Action 4
5. Action 5
Focus Area 1.2
1. Action 1
2. Action 2
3. Action 3
4. Action 4
5. Action 5
Focus Area 2.1
1. Action 1
2. Action 2
3. Action 3
4. Action 4
5. Action 5
Focus Area 2.2
1. Action 1
2. Action 2
3. Action 3
4. Action 4
5. Action 5
Focus Area 3.1
1. Action 1
2. Action 2
3. Action 3
4. Action 4
5. Action 5
Focus Area 3.2
1. Action 1
2. Action 2
3. Action 3
4. Action 4
5. Action 5
Focus Area 3.3
6. Action 1
7. Action 2
8. Action 3
9. Action 4
10. Action 5
Sound governance is a continuous, innovative, yet routine process that keeps your association alive. It is maintained by structure and practice and requires highest standards of fidelity to your mission. Poor governance can be fatal to your association and end your dreams prematurely. Governance is not just a set of rules and regulations to be followed, neither is it just an event or an activity to be achieved, but it is a continuous set of everything that make up the culture of your association to keep it running properly in the prevailing environment.