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Duties of Council Officers


New members and even some longtime members of the Knights of Columbus are reluctant to participate fully in the programs and activities of their council because they don't know enough about the way it operates. They were never told how meetings are conducted nor what the duties and responsibilities of the various officers and directors are. Since a more informed member will most likely prove to be a more active and involved member, every new Knight should be intro­duced to council officers and Service Program directors as soon after his First Degree as possible, and a brief discussion of the office or position should be made at this time.

III-5 (7/13/96)

The following descriptions may be used to introduce new members to the variety of Knights who serve the local council. The duties of council officers are also found in the "Charter, Constitution and Laws", which is available from the Supreme Council Supply Department for 20 cents or on "Those Who Serve," an informational VHS videocassette available at no charge from the Supreme Council Department of Fraternal Services.

Grand Knight

The grand knight is responsible for the overall welfare of the council. Elected annually by the council membership, the grand knight must provide thoughtful and inspired leadership to the 14 other council officers, the Service Program directors, chairmen and members of the council.

More specifically, his duties include: presiding over council meetings, details of which are outlined in the flyer, "Method of Conducting a Council Meeting", (#1937-nc); acting as an ex officio member of all committees; appointing the membership and program directors and working with them on the selection of Service Program activities chairmen and membership recruitment and retention chairmen; convening officers for a monthly meeting; appointing special committees not mandated by the laws of the council; overseeing the proper exemplification of the First Degree; and, finally, making sure that all reports and reporting Forms required by the state or Supreme Council offices are submitted on time.

Another area of the grand knight's duties is overseeing the important work of the council's admission committee. Immediately after entering upon his term of office, the grand knight must appoint an admission committee composed of seven members. The grand knight monitors their work and makes sure their results are in line with the laws governing the actions of the committee.

The grand knight also interacts with the financial secretary and treasurer to insure the council is meeting its financial obligations to the Supreme and state council and others. For instance, the grand knight countersigns all orders drawn and signed by the financial secretary and all checks drawn and signed by the treasurer. He also reads the vouchers from the financial secretary and moneys paid to the treasurer and from the treasurer of moneys deposited in the bank. In essence, the grand knight checks on the performance of the financial secretary and treasurer, working with them to help the council meet its financial obligations.

The grand knight is a member of the Advisory Board charged with general supervision of a Columbian Squires circle sponsored by his council. Finally, the grand knight is responsible for recommending a chaplain and appointing a lecturer.

Hints for the Grand Knight: Long, dragged out meetings inevitably lead to low attendance. In order to make business meetings brief while still accomplishing the necessary business, the following hints will prove helpful:

• Plan your meetings several days in advance.

• If there is a film or speaker planned, set up and test equipment in advance.

• The minutes of the last meeting must be read (cannot be waived but may be summarized.)

• No motion is required to approve the minutes. Simply state "The minutes stand approved as read/amended."

• Identify ahead of time those chairmen who have nothing to report and so state without calling on each of them. If your general program chairman makes the program report, have him summarize all of the reports calling on individuals only for support.

• Committee reports should be REPORTS of what has been done or what is to be done. This is not the time for committee work.

• RESOLUTIONS cannot be acted upon the night they are read. They must be published with action taken at the next meeting. The next meeting is also the time for discussion on the resolution.

• If you want a motion made with appropriate action to follow, arrange for someone to make and second the motion. Write it out, ensure the legality, and be certain it says exactly what you intend.

• BYLAW changes must be submitted to and approved by the Supreme Advocate before they become official. (Dues, Council Name Change, etc.)

• Seconds are not required for nominations, and seconding speeches are definitely out.

• Ask members to inform you before the meeting of illnesses, deaths and miscellaneous announcements so that YOU can write them out and insert them in the proper order of business.

• PERSONAL CONTACT INSURES SUCCESS. Bulletin announcements and announcements during the meeting are necessary, but they will not get the results reaped from a personal message.


Deputy Grand Knight

The deputy grand knight is the second in command in the local council. He is elected annually, assists the grand knight in the operation of council affairs and is responsible for any duties assigned to him by the grand knight.

In the absence of the grand knight, the deputy grand knight presides at council meetings and functions as the grand knight would. The deputy grand knight is a member of the Advisory Board charged with general supervision of a Columbian Squires circle sponsored by his council.



The chancellor is elected annually to serve the council in a variety of ways. Primarily, he assists the grand knight and deputy grand knight in the execution of their duties and takes charge of the council during the incapacity or extended absence of both.

With the cooperation and support of the grand knight, the chancellor has the important duty of strengthening the members' interest in council activities. To that end, he should have in his possession copies of the "Membership Interest Survey", (#1842), that prospective members complete at the time of their admission committee interview.



The recorder functions in much the same way that a court reporter or a secretary does. He is responsible for keeping a true record of all the actions of the council and maintains all correspondence of the council. He should use the "Recorder's Minute Book", (#1403), available from the Supreme Council Supply Department) to record the minutes of all council meetings.

Hints for the Recorder: Following the proceeding suggestions will greatly assist in the keeping of the council meeting minutes and provide a complete account of the history of the council:

• Enter as many items in a bound Recorder's Book before the meeting as possible. It makes the records neater and relieves most of the pressure to do so during the meeting.

• At the roll call of Officers, call out loudly and clearly the title and name of each officer. For example: "Chaplain, Father Zimmer." The Warden should reply "Excused" or "Absent." Continue for all officers.

• When reading the minutes of the preceding meeting, read them loudly and clearly. You will get a lot less static from the members. Also, read down to the roll call of Officers and say "All present except Father Zimmer (excused) and Inside Guard Stan Turner (absent)."

• At the conclusion of the reading of the minutes, if there are any corrections, make them on the page for the meeting reported. Be sure to print so that the correction is legible.

• Make prior arrangements with the Treasurer for a written report of the balances to be reported. It saves having him repeat the balances to you for verification when he makes his report to the council.

• Make arrangements with the General Program Chairman for information about any committee appointments. Ask him to write down the members appointed. You can then enter them in the Recorder's Book in advance. This adds to the neatness of the records and provides for a less hectic meeting for the recorder.

• If resolutions are read, make sure that you are given the council record copy -preferably typed or neatly printed. They are then inserted in the record.

• Oftentimes it is announced that there is someone who is either sick, died or requests prayers for a special intention. It is a fine part of our fraternalism but there is no place provided in the Recorder's Book for their noting. It is suggested that they be noted immediately after the "Good of the Order."



The treasurer is the elected official in charge of handling all council funds. He receives money from the financial secretary and issues a receipt for such. He is also responsible for depositing all money in the proper council accounts and providing a voucher or certificate of deposit to the grand knight for each transaction.

The treasurer is also responsible for issuing payments to the Supreme Council on all assessments made by it to the council and for all orders of the council.

Finally, the treasurer is responsible for keeping accurate accounts of the moneys in the general expense fund of the council and the amount of money in any special funds established by the council. He must be able to provide up‑to‑date records on these accounts to the grand knight, financial secretary or board of trustees.

In accordance with Section 130 of the "Charter, Constitution and Laws" the treasurer shall not take office, however, or be installed or receive any money or property of the council until he has been qualified by giving satisfactory bonds approved by the Board of Trustees or Board of Directors. The treasurer is automatically bonded in the amount of $2,500 upon receipt of the “Report of Officers’” (Form #185) at the Supreme Council Office. Additional bonding may be provided at a cost of $7.00 per thousand by contacting the office of the supreme secretary.

Hints for the Treasurer: The following hints are offered to minimize the time and confusion your task could generate.

• Account balances should be reported only at the close of the last meeting. Report the activities of this meeting on the next report.

• Reconcile your bank statement with the checkbook the day it arrives in the mail. Keep it current!

• Before the start of the meeting, make out three slips showing the balances to be reported. Present one to the grand knight, one to the recorder and keep the final copy for your report. This greatly assists the recorder in the keeping of minutes and will also help the grand knight by allowing the meeting to run smoother.



The lecturer is appointed by the grand knight to provide suitable educational and entertaining programs for the council. He is responsible for presenting the "Good of the Order" section at council meetings. The lecturer must be knowledgeable of all aspects of council programming in order to provide members with informative and entertaining programs. If the meetings have been conducted in accordance with the ceremonials and the agenda, there will be ample time at each meeting for the lecturer to present a worthwhile program that will help build meeting attendance and provide benefits to the membership that is present.



The advocate is the legal representative of the council and should serve as the council's attorney in case of trial and investigation of any matter of interest to the council. The advocate need not be a member of the legal profession; however, he should be thoroughly familiar with all of the laws of the Order as stated in the "Charter, Constitution and Laws" and with the council by‑laws. When a by‑law is to be revised, the advocate serves as chairman of the revision committee.

The advocate should also have a working knowledge of "Robert's Rules of Order," and the Supreme Council flyer, "Methods of Conducting a Council Meeting" (#1937). An understanding of both of these will help keep meetings on track.



The warden is another officer elected annually by the membership at large. The warden is responsible for supervising and maintaining most council property, except that which belongs to the financial secretary. He sets up the council chambers for meetings and degrees and appoints and supervises guards for ceremonial exemplifications. The warden should also oversee the inside and outside guards and make sure they are fulfilling the duties assigned to them.


Inside and Outside Guards

Both of these positions are elected annually. The inside guard attends the inner door of the council chamber, checking on paid up membership cards before allowing entrance. The outside guard tends the outer door of the council home, admitting all visitors to the inner door.

Board of Trustees

The board of trustees consists of the grand knight and three members elected by the council. Trustees supervise all financial business of the council. They serve as auditors for the semiannual audits and oversee the work of the financial secretary and treasurer. The grand knight is the chairman of the board.

Trustees are elected for terms of three years, two years and one year. At each regular election, only the position of three‑year trustee will be voted upon, and the current three and two year trustees move on to become two and one year trustees, respectively.

Importance of the Trustees and Their Duties: The laws of the Order provide that a council shall elect a Board of Trustees consisting of the grand knight and three elected trustees. Each trustee is elected in an alternate year to serve a three year term.

The trustees serve as the "watchdogs" of a council's assets. Assets include membership as well as finances. The duties carry responsibilities that go well beyond the few sentences contained in Section 145 of the "Charter, Constitution and Laws." The major thrust of this section is that the trustees shall exercise close supervision of all council financial matters, and they shall audit the council accounts semi-annually. Therefore, the trustees are urged to fulfill faithfully the obligations they agreed to undertake when they accepted election and were installed.

It is important that a trustee attend all possible meetings. Prior to these meetings, the trustees should examine and approve council bills that are to be presented for vote by the membership. There are several exceptions:

• Any Supreme Council bill or any bill from the State Council. Such obligations are for per-capita, Catholic Advertising and/or supplies. No council action is required.

• Any regular bill that occurs frequently, and having been approved by the council, need not be approved again. This includes such items as rent, utilities, etc. In short, regular and general council expenses.

• Any payments authorized under Section 122 of the Charter, Constitution and Laws. This provides for presentation at one meeting of the intent to spend a sum in excess of $200.00, with the membership voting on the proposal at the next meeting.

The trustees should initial all other approved bills which are to be presented for vote at a meeting, although approval may be given by trustees at any time prior to the council meeting, it is generally more convenient for all concerned to do this on council meeting night.

Trustees should not hesitate to question any bill or financial activity that seems excessive or unauthorized. Because of the stature and experience of most of the trustees, lack of objection is taken as approval. Again, it is the duty of the trustees to safeguard the financial position and well-being of the council.

Probably the most important area for trustees' performance concerns the semi-annual audit. The audit committee made up of the grand knight in office at the time of the audit and the three trustees is chaired by the grand knight.

In the case of the audit for the period ending June 30, the newly elected grand knight chairs the audit activity and signs the completed audit. This often confused point ensures the awareness of the new grand knight to the financial status and practices of his council.

Since terms of office for the trustees are three years, with one new trustee each year, a council will have two trustees with prior experience in preparation of council audits. The new trustee and the new grand knight have ample opportunity to learn the method by working with his more experienced colleagues.

The audit Form is condensed and, if the financial secretary and the treasurer have summarized their records in accordance with their directives, preparing the audit for the average council should require but an evening’s effort. If each member of the audit committee takes a portion for review, the effort is reduced considerably. When preparing an audit, trustees should examine in detail the operations of both the financial secretary and the treasurer.

Careful examination of the financial secretary's records will reveal the following:

• Does he bill the members at least 15 days prior to the period for which dues charges are being made?

• Has a second notice been sent to non-payers three weeks after the first billing?

• Has a list of non-payers been provided to the grand knight six weeks after the first billing? This list might be in the Form of the "Notice of Change of Status" document, which requires personal contact prior to transmittal to higher offices - district, state and Supreme.

Too many councils have lost members because financial secretaries, grand knights and retention personnel have failed to follow the above steps. Such failure has, at times, prevented a council from achieving recognition, which they would normally deserve. Retention is a serious part of any state's membership program.

On the financial side of the audit, the trustees should perform the following:

• Check to ensure that the financial secretary and the treasurer are recording all transactions.

• Check the accuracy of all arithmetic activity.

• Check the treasurer's receipts to the financial secretary for funds transferred by the financial secretary.

• Compare the treasurer's bank deposit slips with his cashbook to ensure the accuracy and totality of his accounting in both the cashbook and the checkbook.

• Check to determine that disbursement vouchers bear the signature of both the grand knight and the financial secretary, and that the disbursements have indeed been made by the treasurer.

Once each year, or more often if necessary, the trustees should request verification from members shown in arrears to ensure those members records agree with the records of the financial secretary. A special reporting Form (Form 12) is available for this purpose. Such action serves a two-fold purpose:

• To determine the accuracy of the financial secretary's recording methods.

• To remind those delinquent members that a dues payment is in order.

Audits should be completed in full, signed by the CURRENT grand knight and the trustees, and a report made to the council membership as well as to the Supreme Secretary, State and District Deputy.

The Supreme Knight is and has been most emphatic in asserting that the practice of trustees signing audits prepared by the financial secretary and/or the treasurer is totally unacceptable, and is a breach of the trustee's fiduciary duties. By such practice, the trustees are attesting to the accuracy of figures that, to their knowledge, is not necessarily supported by the records at hand. The Supreme Knight states that neither the financial secretary nor the treasurer should be present during the audit; but should be available to resolve any of the trustees' questions, for example, by telephone.

Trustees audits are very important because of the bonding of the financial secretary and the treasurer provided by Supreme at no cost to the council. Although councils may hire an accountant to assist with the audit, it remains the trustees' responsibility. In addition, the $2500 bond can be revoked at any time if complete audits are not on file at Supreme for the past year.

Trustees should seriously consider additional bonding for the financial secretary and the treasurer if council income exceeds the $2,500 bonded by Supreme. A council should be protected for its annual income from all sources. If additional bonding is desired, it may be obtained at the rate of $7.00 per $1,000 by writing to the Supreme Advocate, Knights of Columbus, 1 Columbus Plaza, New Haven, CT 06507.

To facilitate trustees’ better understanding of the council's financial operation, there are several films available which outline the duties and relationships of the financial officers of the council. Since the trustees are regarded by the membership as experienced leaders of the council, it is incumbent upon them to set the example of financial responsibility. They can best make their presence felt by faithfully performing the duties entrusted to them, insisting that the council's finances remain in good order.

For further information on how to successfully conduct the semi-annual audit see the section titled "AUDIT REPORT", located in the Grand Knight's Handbook. The handbook is part of the Grand Knight's Packet delivered to each grand knight by the Supreme Council office during the month of June.







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