Frequently Asked Questions about serving on Serendipity’s Board

Please click on the questions below to read the answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the role of the Board at Serendipity Center?

Serendipity’s board fulfills the following roles:

  • The board establishes and furthers our mission.
  • The board serves as ambassadors in the community, raising awareness and forming new relationships on behalf of Serendipity.
  • The board gives and helps raise financial support.
  • The board provides fiscal and policy oversight.
  • The board plans and implements strategic goals, guiding the evolution of the agency.

What do we consider Serendipity’s greatest accomplishments?

  • Over the past 38 years, Serendipity has helped thousands of young people gain skills and overcome trauma. Our students maintain high attendance and demonstrate gains on personal goals.
  • Serendipity maintains an excellent reputation with our referring school districts for quality services and professionalism.
  • Serendipity is responsive and flexible in our ability to meet the changing needs of our students, families, and community.
  • Serendipity is the only local therapeutic school that maintains accreditation as a private special purpose school and certification as a children’s outpatient mental health provider.
  • As a RE-Education program, Serendipity prioritizes the preparation of young people for successful transition into their communities.
  • Serendipity is a former investee with the Social Venture Partners in Portland.

What are the most important projects and challenges being confronted by the organization?

  • Securing adequate funding during a time of complex and changing systems for financing both education and mental health services in Oregon.
  • Adapting our facilities to meet the current needs of our children and programs.
  • Expanding our service model and programs (Transition services, therapeutic services, and the Communications Classroom) given the limitations of our infrastructure and of the capital needed to support growth.
  • Strategizing the future of our organization

What is the annual operating budget?

The 2017 – 2018 annual budget predicts revenue of approximately $6,309,150. Projected expenses will be slightly below this amount, allowing the agency to post a modest positive net income.

Is Serendipity Center in good financial health? Are their clear strategies for the staff and board to sustain and improve financial health?

Serendipity is in good financial health, as indicated by the following:

  • Serendipity’s Finance Committee annually revises fiscal policies, ensuring compliance with new requirements for nonprofits.
  • Included in the fiscal policies are procedures to prevent fraud and to ensure transparency.
  • Through the work of the Finance Committee, there is regular and on-going oversight of the agency’s financial performance.
  • A process of zero-based budgeting is used in the creation of the annual budget.
  • The annual independent audit consistently results in an unmodified opinion.
  • The Fundraising team, working with the Executive Director, drafts an annual fundraising plan for Serendipity, which our board then reviews. The annual plan identifies critical initiatives and sets benchmarks for the upcoming fiscal year.

Is there an annual independent audit?

Yes. The annual audit is completed over the summer, following the close of the fiscal year on June 30th. Serendipity’s Finance Committee recruits and supports an Audit Subcommittee, charged with engaging the independent auditor, reviewing the findings, and ensuring implementation of recommendations. Typically, the auditor presents the audited financial statements and audit letter to the board in October.

How does the board evaluate the Executive Director? How does the board handle ED compensation?

Serendipity’s board conducts an annual evaluation of the Executive Director. The Board Chair solicits feedback from all board members and then produces the evaluation. Compensation for the Executive Director is included in contracting, and is also handled by the Board Chair. Compensation and benefit surveys that offer comparisons with like-sized local nonprofits are used as guides in the compensation setting process.

Is there Directors’ and Officers’ coverage? How recently has a professional reviewed the risk management policies to evaluate the adequacy of insurance coverage?

Serendipity does provide Management Liability for past, present and future Board and committee members and officers in the amount of $2,000,000. Management Liability includes Directors’ & Officers’ Liability, Employment Practices Liability, Fiduciary Liability, Workplace Violence Liability, Sexual Misconduct Coverage, Cost of Defense for Wage and Hour Claims, and Telephone Consumer Protection Act Claims. In addition, we provide insurance in the following areas: Property, Inland Marine, Boiler/Mechanical Breakdown, Crime, General Liability, Business Auto (owned, non-owned, and hired); Cyber Liability, Worker’s Compensation , and a $5 million Umbrella policy. The adequacy of our insurance coverage is reviewed annually prior to policy renewal with our broker. Evidence of renewed coverage and current insurance limits are provided annually to all board members.

Has the board adopted a Conflict of Interest policy?

Yes. The Executive Committee has crafted several board policies, which have been adopted by our Board of Directors. Other policies define procedures for recruiting and mentoring new members, electing officers, authorizing committees to make decisions, working with program management and staff, and evaluating and compensating the Executive Director.

Have there been any allegations of financial mismanagement?

None.

What training and mentoring is offered to new board members?

New board members meet with the Executive Director following their acceptance onto the board, for the purpose of becoming oriented to the mission, culture, and practices of the organization. New board members are encouraged to visit committee meetings and to complete their annual work plan within three months. Each board member is provided with a board manual, containing the following:

  • Serendipity’s mission, core beliefs, and agency history.
  • An annual calendar of meetings and board events.
  • Roster and contact information for board members and advisors.
  • The annual budget and current financial reports.
  • Previous board meeting agendas, minutes, and monthly Director’s reports.
  • Serendipity’s Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws.
  • Strategic objectives and annual work plans.
  • Committee descriptions.
  • Board policies.
  • Current insurance summary.
  • Program information and brochures.

What time commitment do board members make?

Ten hours each month is the average time requirement for board members. This amount typically includes board meeting preparation and attendance; committee meeting preparation, attendance, and assignments; and travel time.

How is accountability created for board members?

Each board member completes and submits a self-evaluation annually. On some years, this feedback is solicited in an interview format with the Board Chair. This evaluation assists members in assessing their contributions as board members against the expectations outlined in the board contract and the commitments made in their personal fundraising plans. Accountability for committees is established through quarterly reports of progress towards the annual strategic work plan provided to the full board in board meetings.