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.