The sexual escapades of Bill Clinton set the table for dialog about the importance of accurate and honest reporting. President Clinton became entangled over his use of language in describing his lawful relationship with a Monica Lewinsky. The impeachment charges against him were not founded on sexual misconduct but on allegations of perjury. The Presidents’ private, personal relationship triggered a formal application of codified law to remove him from office. The public role that President Clinton was elected to elevated every relationship of his to a relationship of interest to every citizen of the United States of America.
In the non-profit sector staff and volunteers have legally binding responsibilities. Trustees are fiduciaries and they have the duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty of obedience. Their duty of care includes the expectation that a volunteer or paid director will carry out behavior that most volunteers consider expected such as the use of independent judgment, offering oversight of finances, and reviewing the information provided to them by staff. Trustees and staff have a duty to be aware of the laws that govern their practice. Thus a duty of care for the Drummer Boy is to read the signals from the Field Marshal. The Drummer Boy’s duty of loyalty includes not telling the other kids the pace for tomorrows march and not leading the march for the other army. The duty of obedience refers to the responsibility of compliance to legal statutes.
It is through relationships that mission and vision dictate the language of the song we sing and the meter and cadence. The clarity and volume are dictated by the supporters whose relationship is well defined and understood. The organizational relationship to, volunteers, staff, community partners and rules that govern them is the most important asset that a charitable organization possess. This lattice of relationships is the fabric that generates and harnesses the energy that propels an organization to impact a community.