Read this before saying ‘yes!’ to that board role

Did you know?

69% of non-profits have faced one or more serious governance issues in the past ten years.

Board directors or governors are official officers of an organization.

So before you accept that invitation to join a board consider this:

Along with the excitement of having the opportunity to make a difference by joining a non-profit board comes serious responsibilities and liabilities.  It is important to understand these and to  review current documentation, processes, and protocols are in place and being followed.

An organization’s governance history is usually longer than any director’s term. Depending on how the organization is structured, boards are obligated to comply with bylaws and reporting structures as well as those of all regulatory bodies within the jurisdiction it operates.

To attain and maintain non-profit status, there must also be a collection of policies and procedures that should be regularly updated to reflect changing circumstances.

The three board governance responsibilities (according to McKinsey & Co.) are:

  1. Shape the organization’s Mission, Vision, and Strategic Direction.
  2. Ensure there is both leadership and sufficient resources to support the leaders.
  3. Monitor and improve Performance

With governance responsibilities in mind, here’s some things for you to consider and ask before saying ‘yes!’:

  1. Consider the type of board you are joining/are on and whether the board is able to handle member expectations. For example, how much time and effort is each board director expected to commit and what skills, competencies, and qualifications must they have to competently govern?
  2. Ask what your role will be, what skills and knowledge you are expected to bring to the role, and the typical time commitment.
  3. Here’s a sample list of expectations for prospective board members:
    Each year you are on the board, you should:
    • Participate in any and all strategic planning sessions.
    • Prepare for, attend, and actively participant in all board meetings.
    • Put aside personal time to carry out your board role (portfolio) – ensuring your actions align with the strategic plan and regularly reporting results of your work at board meetings.
    • Motivate, support, coach, and recognize volunteers in your portfolio.
    • Regularly meet with your volunteers to be sure they have everything they need and that they are following your directions.
    • Carefully review and discuss quandaries and options before voting at board meetings.
    • Ensure robust fiscal controls are in place and are being followed.
    • Help identify risks and suggest ways to mitigate and manage all risks.
    • Be the organization’s ambassador – attend events as its official representative and contribute to its online exposure in social media posts, blogs, podcasts, presentations, and campaigns.

Try to avoid becoming an internet sensation such as the Handforth Parish Council Planning & Environment Committee meeting held 10 December 2020.
I see this as a good lesson in the challenge of handling contentious opinions and struggles to uphold governance and procedures.

Emotions were raw…  No wonder it’s gone viral!