Don’t Just Sit There, Serve!

By Chris Gandy :Maybe it’s me, but have you noticed (or cared) how often people refer to their role on a not for profit board as “sitting”?  It’s as if simply turning up is all that is required.

I sit of the board of Save the Purple Frog League.

Sorry I am late, our board sat for ages tonite.

I am passionate about my local community, I sit on 5 boards

Rightly or wrongly, but I tend to think of people who reference their board involvement in this way as those who probably do little more than attend a monthly or quarterly meeting; patiently listen to spiels from the CEO, Chair and maybe Sub-Committee Chairs; and walk away with a bunch of papers that they discard as soon they get home.

Fortunately, due to a very wise and supportive Chair of the first board I was invited to join, I learnt that there is more to being on a board than attendance. I still recall my orientation to that board when the Chair said to me ….

People don’t just sit on our board; they serve on our board. Are you prepared to serve?

From that first board experience, I came to appreciate that board members SERVE by…

  • Setting the vision and strategic direction of the organisation.
  • Ensuring key constituents are served.
  • Thoroughly searching to find the most suitable person for the Chief Executive role.
  • Supporting and fairly evaluating the Chief Executive.
  • Actively participating in a comprehensive planning process and monitoring performance against the plans’ goal.
  • Monitoring and strengthening programs and services
  • Providing adequate financial resources.
  • Ensuring a robust risk management process is in place.
  • Maintaining the legal and ethical integrity.
  • Building and growing a diverse and competent Board.
  • Enhancing the organisation’s public profile and garnering community support.
  • Listening to others describe problems and …
  • Then making yourself part of a worthwhile and workable solution.

In short, I realised that being an effective board member involves more than turning up, it requires making a contribution as well.

Chris is the Founder of Cause & Effective.  He and his team help cause-based organisations open the door to opportunities when their CEO departs.


About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

Thats our take on things. Over to you, please add to the discussion.

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