The AIA Ohio Foundation: Protecting and Enhancing Member Investments.
Bruce Sekanick, FAIA, President of the AIA Ohio Foundation Board

The Board of Directors of any organization has several very basic responsibilities. During the AIA Ohio Board orientation earlier this year, AIA Ohio Executive Vice President Kate Brunswick, CAE, Hon. AIA, outlined each of these for board members. The three most common responsibilities referenced include Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty, and Duty of Obedience. Each of these addresses a task, or duty, that Board members need to adhere to. The fiduciary duty of the Board falls under the Duty of Care. Simply put, the Board is charged with using due diligence and good business judgment in their decision-making processes. Every Board, whether a 501(c)(6) or 501(c)(3) should follow these same basic guidelines.

How you go about this process often depends on the size of the organization and how the organization is managed. At organizations like AIA Ohio, management and staff help guide the Board through this process, providing monthly reports on income and expenses and activity in any savings or investment accounts. This monthly reporting to the Board and Annual Report to the membership is often capped at year-end by a third-party audit. As anyone familiar with the operations of AIA Ohio knows, the organization has consistently received clean annual audits for more than two decades. A clean audit does not happen by chance. They are the result of hard work by the Board and AIA Ohio’s management team, Accent on Management, to help ensure that your money, as an AIA member, is wisely spent on the needs that impact members the most.

Smaller organizations, who do have the same responsibilities but do not often have the resources available to have a third-party audit performed, often rely on internal audits or reviews. Because the content and process of an audit are tightly controlled within the industry, audits are often cost-prohibitive for many smaller organizations. In this instance, internal reviews are performed by Board Committees to help ensure that monies spent and received by the organization are fairly presented in the financial reports. These reports allow the Board to make decisions and meet its fiduciary obligations. As a 501(c)(3), The AIA Ohio Foundation uses an internal review process to verify that the work of the Board meets the requirements of the organization. Through a Finance Committee that reviews the organization’s accounts, the AIA Ohio Foundation can demonstrate that it properly adheres to its policies and procedures in its effort to carry out its strategic goals.

While the operations of the Foundation may not be of interest to everyone, our ability to fund programs and events probably is. In 2021, the Foundation provided scholarships totaling $15,000 to the five accredited schools of architecture in Ohio. In addition to the scholarships, the Foundation provided funds for the following programs:

$2,100 for the AIA Akron Computer Scholarship Fund
$5,000 for dreamArchitecture through AIA Cleveland
$2,500 a Night to Celebrate with AIA Columbus
$2,300 for Design Pop through the Center for Architecture and Design in Columbus

At the Board’s next meeting, the Foundation will be considering several additional grants submitted for funding. These grants, under review by the organization’s Grants Committee, provide great programming opportunities within the guidelines of our mission. Combined with our renewed effort to fund AIAS chapters, the investments of the Foundation are our most important asset, and they allow us to continue to help others meet their needs and goals.

Without the Board’s and management’s dedication to meeting the highest fiscal standards possible, the AIA Ohio Foundation would not be able to fund worthwhile programs like the ones noted above. This ability all begins with the careful management of every contribution we receive. The Foundation appreciates the support of the AIA membership and through our work, we hope that we can expand our support for the profession through our scholarship and grants initiatives.