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BOARDS AND COMMITTEES

They are volunteers, too!
Look here for information and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee. The purpose is to help those who work or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.

~December 2010~


BEING AN EFFECTIVE BOARD MEMBER

It is essential to train new members of a Board of Directors.  New members need to know about the programs of the organization, the finances, the names and duties of staff, and the other members of the board with whom he/she will serve.  Most of that information is factual and straightforward.  But the roles and responsibilities of a board member are more than facts, they also relate to behaviors, values, and attitudes.  Are you covering these topics in training?

Roles and Responsibilities of the Effective Board Member

A.  Represent the needs of all stakeholders of the organization; clients, members, volunteers, staff, and partnering organizations.

B.  Carefully consider what you say and do.  It will be repeated

C.  Know your role.  When in doubt consult with an officer of the board.

D.  Follow the chain of command.  If someone brings a staff problem to you, refer the person back to his/her supervisor and then notify the executive director.  Back away and make it clear that supervision of staff is not the job of a board member.

E.   Do your homework and ask questions. Read reports, budgets, or white papers related to board decisions.  If you are in doubt about something ask to observe a program, discuss it with staff closest to the program. 

F.   Listen with an open mind.  Set aside your opinions until all the facts are in.

G.   Avoid surprises.  If you have a topic for the board meeting contact the president of the board or the executive director to determine when the topic would be appropriate for inclusion on the agenda.

H.    Put the team and team goals first.  Effective boards are ones where members often disagree, but discussion and deliberation is respectful.  Once a decision is made everyone supports the will of the majority, with no sniping around the edges.

I.     Display good manners.  If you are passionate that is good, but keep passions within the boundaries of respect for others.  Shouting and sarcasm have no place in board or committee deliberations

J      Don't make snap decisions.  Boards members need time to process information and should never be asked to make instant decisions.  Politely suggesting that a topic be tabled is certainly an option to slow down a decision.

L.     Discuss the issues. Board members should be dealing with issues requiring a review/revision of policy or procedure.  It is usually legal, financial or programmatic.  Stick to issues, stay out of staff work.

M.    Know and understand  all the responsibilities of being a member of a team.


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