When we set up our youth project, we had recently left university. We wanted to make a difference for other young women. We felt that people wouldn’t take our youth organisation seriously as we were all young – and all women. We reached out to our networks and were lucky that some established people were interested in supporting us, including two lawyers, an accountant and a chief. We asked them to join our board and for a while we were happy. They were such accomplished people and everyone told us it was amazing. Six months later we wanted to make changes to our organisation. We founders were doing all the work, but none of us were on the board. We reached out to the board but none of them made time to meet with us. Some didn’t even respond.Young leaders, Nigeria
When you are clear about the purpose of your youth organisation, you may go through the relevant local process to officially register your organisation as an NGO or education project. Part of this process usually includes governance and forming a board of people whose role is to ensure that your youth organisation does what it set out to do. If we want young women to become active citizens in our democracies, we must model these values for them in our activities: listening, learning, and service leadership.
Good governance ensures that your youth organisation:
- Follows its mission and makes a positive difference for young people
- Doesn’t break the law or other regulations.
- Is well run and uses resources well.
- Identifies challenges which can be quickly addressed.
- Maintains its good reputation
To do this it is good to have board members with useful skills. It’s always helpful to have a lawyer and an accountant on your board, but many smart people deeply understand your community (including young people) and might be able to help with many aspects of good governance.
As your youth organisation grows or the local situation changes, governing means agreeing:
- the purpose of the charity or non-profit/ NGO (i.e. your youth organisation)
- broad strategies to carry out your purpose effectively.
For example, if the local situation changes, you may have already eliminated the need for your youth club or identified a better way of addressing this issue. Your ‘Planning Triangle’ would now be out of date and you have to re-plan to develop a new strategy:
- accounting for the organisation’s performance.
- ensuring it operates within the law.
- What is the legal status of your organisation?
- Do you model women’s leadership through the composition of your board?
- How do you work with the board and plan the organisation’s future?
- What does your board contribute?