First adopted June 3, 2003
Last Revision – January, 2013
The responsibilities of the Standing Committee of First Parish in Concord, as defined in the bylaws of First Parish, are to have general charge of its property, except that held by the Trustees, conduct all its business affairs and control its administration, including the appointment of such ad hoc committees as it may deem necessary. The conduct of these responsibilities (but not the responsibilities themselves) is assigned to the First Parish Staff, including both paid and volunteer members, with the Head of Staff designated to be the Senior Minister. The following policies are set forth to guide the Staff, describe how the Standing Committee functions, and define the relationship between the Head of Staff and the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee can change at any time the assignment of the conduct of its responsibilities, or the designation of the Head of Staff, or any of the following policies.
These policies supersede all previous polices of First Parish in Concord.
1.0 ENDS POLICIES (Revised Sept. 2012)
In line with our June 2012 revision of our mission statement:
First Parish in Concord is a welcoming Unitarian Universalist congregation that seeks to deepen spiritually, build community, and make a positive difference in the world.
Our Strategic Ends are (Sept. 2012):
- We at First Parish open our doors to everyone. We actively welcome one and all, enabling each person to find a place in our community.
- We at First Parish are visibly committed to our UU principles and to the larger UU community, and we honor our historical, intellectual and spiritual roots.
- We at First Parish come together to deepen spiritually through meaningful worship, mutual care, and opportunities for inspiring experiences.
- We at First Parish engage with and support one another through life’s journey.
- We at First Parish work to make a positive difference in the world and are thereby transformed.
2.0 MEANS POLICIES
In pursuit of these Ends Policies, the Staff may use all means except those that are illegal, immoral, unwise, imprudent, unsafe, undignified, in conflict with commonly accepted business or ethical practices, or in contravention of our Unitarian Universalist principles. To guard against the inadvertent use of these unavailable means, the Staff shall follow the practices described in the following sections.
2.1 General Responsibilities
The Senior Minister, as head of the First Parish staff, is responsible for implementing these Means Policies.
2.2 Members, Friends, and Visitors
Conditions, procedures, or decisions shall be safe, respectful, unintrusive, and provide for appropriate confidentiality and privacy with respect to members, friends, and visitors.
These policies shall be followed:
1. Information shall be elicited only for which there is a clear necessity.
2. Methods of collecting, reviewing, transmitting, or storing information shall be used
that protect against improper access to that material.
3. Facilities shall be maintained that provide a reasonable level of safety, access, and
4. Everyone shall be informed of this policy, and for those who inform the Staff that they have not been reasonably accorded their rights under this policy, a process for resolving problems shall be provided.
2.3 Treatment of Staff
Conditions shall be maintained that are non-discriminatory, safe, professional, and respectful with respect to the Staff.
With respect to the Staff, including volunteer staff and committee volunteers, in all matters excepting those pertaining to hiring procedures and compensation:
1. Written personnel policies shall be used that clarify personnel rules for staff, provide for effective handling of problems or complaints, and protect against wrongful conditions such as nepotism and grossly preferential treatment for personal reasons.
2. No staff member shall be discriminated against for expressing dissent.
3. Staff shall be encouraged to apply to the Standing Committee when
a) internal problem-solving procedures have been exhausted and
b) the staff member alleges either that
(1) Standing Committee policy has been violated to his or her detriment, or
(2) Standing Committee policy does not adequately protect his or her rights.
4. Staff shall be acquainted with their rights under this policy.
2.4 Financial Activities
With respect to the financial activities, financial condition, and assets of the First Parish
1. The financial health and assets of First Parish shall be protected.
2. Material deviation of actual expenditures from the Standing Committee’s Annual Strategic Priorities (see Appendix B) or from the budget approved by the Congregation for that fiscal year shall not be allowed.
3. Auditors or others appointed by the Standing Committee and/or the Treasurer to oversee the assets and financial condition of First Parish shall be assisted.
4. Financial Means Policies established by the Standing Committee (see Appendix A) shall be adhered to.
2.5 Compensation and Benefits
With respect to employment, compensation, and benefits to employees, consultants, contract workers, and volunteers, the fiscal integrity or public image of First Parish shall be protected from jeopardy.
Accordingly, no staff member may:
1. Change his or her own compensation and benefits.
2. Promise or imply permanent or guaranteed First Parish employment.
3. Establish current compensation and benefits so as to cause unpredictable or inequitable situations, including those that:
a) Incur unfunded liabilities;
b) Provide less than some basic level of benefits to all full-time employees, though differential benefits to encourage longevity are not prohibited;
c) Allow any employee to lose benefits already accrued from any foregoing plan.
2.6 Loss of Head of Staff Services
In order to provide for smooth administration of the affairs of First Parish, the Head of Staff shall designate at least one other staff member at First Parish to maintain familiarity with the Standing Committee and Head of Staff issues and functions. This person or persons would temporarily take the place of the Head of Staff in the event of a sudden loss of Head of Staff services.
2.7 Communications and Support to the Standing Committee
With respect to communications to the Standing Committee, the Head of Staff shall:
1. Submit regular reports required by the Standing Committee (see Section 4.0) in a timely, accurate, and understandable fashion, directly addressing provisions of Standing Committee polices.
2. Keep the Standing Committee aware of relevant trends, anticipated adverse media coverage, material external and internal changes, particularly changes in the assumptions upon which any Standing Committee policy has previously been established.
3. Advise the Standing Committee if, in the Head of Staff’s opinion, the Standing Committee is not in compliance with its own policies on Standing Committee Operations and Standing Committee–Head of Staff Linkage, particularly in the case of Standing Committee behavior that is detrimental to the working relationship between the Standing Committee and the Head of Staff.
4. Marshal for the Standing Committee as many staff and external points of view, issues, and options as needed for fully-informed Standing Committee choices.
5. Provide a mechanism for official Standing Committee, officer, or committee communications.
6. Whenever possible, deal with the Standing Committee as a whole.
7. Report in a timely manner an actual or anticipated non-compliance with any policy of the Standing Committee.
3.0 Standing Committee Operations
The Standing Committee of First Parish in Concord has responsibility as the primary fiduciary steward of First Parish. It will act on behalf of the membership to support the Church’s mission, determine and demand appropriate organizational performance, and prevent unacceptable activities and conditions within the Church.
The Standing Committee will function with a proactive outward vision of the future; encouragement of diversity in viewpoints; strategic leadership; a clear distinction between Standing Committee and Head of Staff roles; and an emphasis on collective rather than individual decisions.
1. The Standing Committee will cultivate a sense of group responsibility; be responsible for excellence in its own performance; be the initiator of governing policy; use the expertise of individual members to enhance the ability of the Standing Committee as a body; and meet its commitments in a timely and responsible manner.
2. The Standing Committee will guide the Staff through the establishment of broad written governing policies reflecting First Parish’s values and perspectives about ends to be achieved and means to be employed and avoided. The Standing Committee’s major policy focus will be on intended long-term effects.
3. The Standing Committee will operate in a disciplined manner. This discipline will apply to attendance, preparation, policy-making principles, respect of roles, and ensuring continuance of operating capability. Continual Standing Committee development will include orientation of new Standing Committee members in the Standing Committee’s process and periodic discussion of improvement of the Standing Committee’s process and performance.
4. The Standing Committee will “speak with one voice,” which means that after a decision is reached all members will unambiguously support it outside of the Standing Committee.
5. The Standing Committee, with the treasurer, shall establish policies and limitations that adequately protect the financial health and preserve the assets of First Parish. One future consideration is a policy to develop long-term financial reserves.
6. The Standing Committee shall appoint an Audit Committee and/or Auditors to complete a yearly financial review of First Parish with a written report to the Standing Committee.
3.2 Standing Committee Job Description
The Standing Committee will produce written governing policies that, at the broadest levels, address each of the following:
1. Ends: Staff products, effects, benefits, outcomes, recipients, and their relative worth.
2. Means: Practices specified to achieve Ends Policies, and limits on Staff authority that establish the prudent and ethical boundaries within which all Staff activity and decisions must take place.
3. Standing Committee Operations: Specification of how the Standing Committee conceives, carries out, and monitors its own task.
4. Standing Committee–Head of Staff Linkage: How power is delegated and its proper use monitored; the Head of Staff role, authority, and accountability.
5. The Standing Committee will assure Head of Staff performance against policies 1 and 2 in this list.
3.3 Chairperson’s Role (May 10, 2015)
The chairperson will exemplify open and inclusive leadership for the benefit of the Parish.
- The chairperson assures the integrity of the Standing Committee’s functioning.
- The chairperson assures that the Standing Committee behaves consistently with its own rules as well as those legitimately imposed upon it from outside the organization.
- The chairperson is empowered to establish all meeting agendas in coordination with the other members and to chair Standing Committee meetings, with all the commonly accepted power of that position (for example, ruling, recognizing). The chairperson assures that all deliberation will be fair, open, and thorough but also timely, orderly, and kept to the point.
- The chairperson has the authority to make decisions that fall within topics covered by Standing Committee Operations and Standing Committee–Head of Staff Linkage policies, except where the Standing Committee specifically delegates portions of this authority to others. The chairperson is authorized to use any reasonable interpretation of the provisions in these policies. The chairperson has no authority to make individual decisions about Ends and Means policies.
- The chairperson represents the Standing Committee to outside parties including announcing Standing Committee stated positions and stating chair decisions and interpretations within the area delegated to her or him. The chairperson may delegate this authority but remains accountable for its use.
3.4 Standing Committee Members Code of Conduct
The Standing Committee commits itself and its members to ethical, businesslike, and lawful conduct, including proper use of authority and appropriate decorum when acting as board members.
1. Members must represent loyalty to the interests of the entire membership. This loyalty supersedes any loyalty to advocacy or interest groups and membership on other boards or staffs. It also supersedes the personal interest of any board member as an individual member of the congregation.
2. Members must avoid conflict of interest with respect to their fiduciary responsibility.
a) There must be no self-dealing or any conduct of private business or personal services between any Standing Committee member and the Staff except that which is procedurally controlled to assure openness, competitive opportunity, and equal access to inside information.
b) When the Standing Committee is to decide upon an issue about which a member has an unavoidable conflict of interest, that member shall absent herself or himself without comment from not only the vote but also from the deliberation by leaving the meeting.
c) Standing Committee members must not use their positions to obtain Church employment for themselves, family members, or close associates. Should a member desire employment, he or she must first resign from the Standing Committee.
d) Members will annually disclose their involvements with other organizations, with vendors, or any other associations that might produce a conflict of interest.
3. Standing Committee member’s interactions outside of the Standing Committee are limited as follows:
a) Members’ interaction with the Staff must recognize the lack of authority vested in individuals except when explicitly authorized by the Standing Committee.
b) Members’ interactions with public, press, or other entities must recognize the same limitation and the inability of any Standing Committee member to speak for the Standing Committee except to repeat explicitly stated Standing Committee decisions.
4. Members will respect the confidentiality appropriate to issues of a sensitive nature.
3.5 Standing Committee Subcommittee Principles
Standing Committee subcommittees are to help the Standing Committee do its job.
1. Subcommittees ordinarily will assist the Standing Committee by preparing policy alternatives and implications for Standing Committee deliberation.
2. Standing Committee subcommittees may not speak or act for the board except when formally given such authority by Standing Committee action for specific and time-limited purposes.
3. This policy applies to any group that is formed by Standing Committee action, whether or not it is called a subcommittee and regardless of whether the group includes Standing Committee members.
3.6 Standing Committee Internal Communications
Communications from Standing Committee leadership to Standing Committee members and among Standing Committee members will be clear, expedient, and inclusive.
1. Email communications will be conducted as follows:
a) The Standing Committee will maintain an appropriate official email list to facilitate easy distribution of information via email to all members.
b) Standing Committee members will check their personal email not less than every two days for announcements and other Standing Committee business.
c) If Standing Committee business requiring action before Monday arises over a weekend, the chairperson will contact Standing Committee members by email, requesting a response. The chairperson will be responsible for attempting to contacting by phone any Standing Committee members who have not responded to the email by the required time.
d) The board will maintain a second, more extensive email list to foster informal discussion with other elements of the Church leadership.
2. Document Management (To be written).
4.0 STANDING COMMITTEE–HEAD OF STAFF LINKAGE
A good relationship between the Standing Committee and the Head of Staff is an essential part of the successful operation of First Parish. This relationship includes the following:
1. Only decisions of the Standing Committee are binding on the Head of Staff.
2. The Head of Staff is directly accountable to the Standing Committee for Staff performance and conduct. Consequently, Staff accomplishment of the Ends Policies using the Means Policies is considered successful Head of Staff performance.
3. The Standing Committee delegates authority to the Head of Staff through these written policies that describe the Ends to be achieved and the Means to be used, allowing the Head of Staff to use any reasonable interpretation of these policies.
4. In pursuance of these policies, the Head of Staff is authorized to establish any further policies, make any decisions, take any actions, establish any practices, and develop any activities that are necessary. Copies of policies and enabling documents for practices and activities shall be provided to the Standing Committee prior to their implementation.
5. Evaluation of the Head of Staff’s performance shall be based on the Ends and Means Policies described in this document. This evaluation shall be performed by the Standing Committee annually with whatever assistance it deems necessary and will be aided by regular reports provided by the Head of Staff. The reports, their frequency and their content are as follows:
a) Financial Report, monthly, containing the Church cash position, all inflows and outflows, all budget line items, gift and fund accounting, and reasonable forecasts.
b) Annual Pledge Campaign Report, just prior to the last Standing Committee Meeting of the church year, containing a statistical analysis of the results and a comparison of them with previous years.
c) Financial Planning Report, quarterly, containing status reports on the next year’s budget development and planning for the Annual Pledge Campaign and other major fund raising activities.
d) Staff Report, biannually, containing status of the staff and a review of compensation and benefits
e) State of the Church Report, annually at the annual meeting, containing a summary of the activities from the Church year, recognizing major events both positive and negative, and a forecast of the immediate future with anticipated consequences and recommended actions.
f) Report on special projects, as agreed from time to time.
APPENDIX A: FINANCIAL MEANS POLICIES
The Financial Means Policies, as established by the Standing Committee, are described in this appendix.
These policies for financial operations shall be followed:
1. The budget shall be adjusted and the changes communicated to the Treasurer, Standing Committee, and staff responsible for budget line items any time total income or expense forecasts change more than 5%.
2. Inter-fund shifting of more than 5% of a given budget line item or fund shall require the review and approval of the Treasurer and the Standing Committee.
3. At least 80% of any short-term cash reserves used during a particular fiscal year within that fiscal year shall be replenished, consistent with the building of the short-term cash reserve, and without drawing on the long-term cash reserve (once it is established) without the recommendation of the Treasurer and the approval of the Standing Committee.
4. Unpaid pledges shall be pursued at least quarterly during the fiscal year in which they are due.
5. Unpaid non-pledge receivables shall be pursued after a reasonable amount of time.
6. Inter-fund shifting in amounts that deviate materially from the Standing Committee’s Annual Strategic Priorities and the budget approved by the Congregation shall not be done.
7. Payroll and debts shall be settled in a timely manner.
8. A financial reporting system that allows the Standing Committee, the Treasurer, and other interested parties a clear understanding of the status of the financial condition of First Parish shall be developed. The financial reports will include the Church cash position, all inflows and outflows, all budget line items, gift and fund accounting, and reasonable forecasts. Financial reports will be made available when specifically requested, and on a regular monthly basis.
9. Tax payments or other government-ordered payments or filings shall not be allowed to be overdue or inaccurately filed.
10. The long-term cash reserve (once it is established) shall not be drawn upon without the recommendation of the Treasurer and the approval of the Standing Committee.
11. The Church shall not be caused to be indebted, or entered into a contract that could cause the Church to be indebted that is not in accordance with the First Parish Standing Committee’s Annual Strategic Priorities.
12. Real property shall not be acquired, encumbered, or disposed of on behalf of First Parish.
A2.0 Budgeting (Revised January 2013)
These policies for budgeting shall be followed:
1. A proposed budget shall be developed and submitted to the Treasurer for consideration and acceptance by the Standing Committee and the congregation for the next fiscal year, in accordance with Appendix B, Planning.
2. The financial planning and budgeting for any fiscal year or the remaining part of any fiscal year shall not deviate materially from the Standing Committee’s Annual Strategic Priorities, risk fiscal jeopardy, or fail to be derived from that year’s budget or a multi-year fiscal plan, if one is in place.
1. Consistently support the missions, programs, and goals of First Parish.
2. Provide adequate information to enable credible projection of revenues and expenses, separation of capital and operational items, cash flow, disclosure of planning assumptions, written descriptions of all operating and fund line items, and those responsible for each line item.
3. Plan the expenditure in any fiscal year of no more funds than are conservatively expected to be received in that period.
4. Provide adequate funds that are required for the Standing Committee’s budgeted activities during the year.
5. Provide 7.5% of total pledges received for that fiscal year for Social Action activities and grants.
6. Maintain a short-term cash reserve that is a minimum of 10% of the total annual budget. These cash reserves may be used only under specific circumstances:
a) Cash flow shortages arising when expenses fall due before the income to pay them is received;
b) Cash flow shortages caused by unexpected emergencies, such as the withdrawal of a key funder, loss of a key asset, or economic downturn;
c) A sudden need for cash to start a new program or take advantage of an unexpected opportunity that will significantly contribute to the Church’s mission.
A3.0 Asset Protection
The assets of First Parish in Concord shall be protected, adequately maintained, and not unnecessarily risked.
These policies for protection of assets shall be followed:
1. The organization’s public image or credibility shall be protected, particularly in ways that ensure the accomplishment of the First Parish in Concord Mission.
2. The organization, the Standing Committee, or staff shall not be unnecessarily exposed to claims of liability.
3. Instruments in accordance with the Standing Committee’s Investment Guidelines, once they are established, shall be used for investments or holding any operating capital, short term cash reserve, or long term cash reserve.
4. Cash shall be reasonably invested to maximize interest opportunities, within the Standing Committee’s Investment Guidelines, once they are established.
5. Unbonded personnel shall be prevented access to material amounts of funds.
6. Funds shall not be received, processed or dispersed under controls that are insufficient to meet the Standing Committee’s appointed auditor’s standards.
7. When making any purchase, ensure that:
a) Normally prudent protection has been given against conflict of interest.
b) If it is over 1% of the annual budget, comparative prices and quality are obtained.
c) If it is over 3% of the annual budget, a stringent method of assuring the balance of long-term quality and cost is used.
8. Facilities, premises, and equipment shall be provided with adequate and timely maintenance.
9. Intellectual property, information, archives, and files shall be protected from loss or significant damage.
10. Adequate insurance for theft and casualty loss to at least 80% of replacement value and for liability for the Standing Committee, the Staff, and First Parish shall be provided.
A4.0 Endowment, Restricted, Memorial, and Other Gift Funds
Regarding gifts to First Parish, the Head of Staff shall:
1. Evaluate, accept (or decline) gifts, and receive gifts on behalf of the Trustees, the Church, and the Treasurer.
2. Communicate this Gift Acceptance Policy to donors contemplating both unrestricted and restricted gifts.
3. Any undesignated gift between $1,000–$10,000 will go into a Trustee (Money Market) fund. Any undesignated gift over $10,000 will be treated as if it came from an estate and will go to the Trustees to be included in the endowment.
4. Plan, budget, and spend gift funds to further the purposes of the Church, in accordance with the directives and restrictions that govern each Fund and in coordination with the Standing Committee and the Treasurer.
5. Provide an accounting of each gift received, and all specifically related expenditures thereof, as part of the regular financial reporting to the Treasurer and the Standing Committee.
6. Deliver to the Trustees any gifts designated for, or required to be transferred to, the Endowment.
7. Not allow the spending of gifts for other than the following:
a) Actualization of the directives and restrictions that govern each Fund.
b) Reasonable bookkeeping, publicity, solicitations, and public recognition of donors to the Fund.
c) Other expenses thought necessary to properly carry out the intention of the gift, and projects and purposes consistent with the gift.
d) Gift funds will be spent in accordance with directives and restrictions set forth in the First Parish Gift Policy.
APPENDIX B: PLANNING
This appendix will contain all policies related to planning activities, each with its own schedule, all of which are consistent with each other.
The proposed planning activities will include:
Standing Committee Strategic Priorities
Annual Budgeting Schedule
Multi-Year Fiscal Plan