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Look here for infomation 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.
~April 2001~
  • Job Description for Board Members



No one was born knowing how to serve on a board. And yet many boards act as though they think this is so. They give the impression that they feel that it is patronizing to require an orientation session for new board members. Few boards give their members job descriptions; few manage to get everyone together for a yearly board retreat; and few evaluate themselves (see the article published on the March Volunteer Today).

So people of goodwill go on boards and frequently spend a year or so trying to figure out their role. "If I talk too much; I'll turn people off". "If I talk too little, they will think I'm stupid." They spend nights thinking "should I have said something about that issue? I don't think what they did was right." And often they leave a term of board service dissatisfied with themselves and the experience. Sometimes they even stop attending meetings. They don't even understand that the board of which they are a member is legally responsible for the organization and that they are negligent if they do not participate in its important decisions.

The following is my job description for board members.

 Expectations of Board Members

    • Help articulate the vision, mission and strategic plan for the organization.
    • Understand that the board is legally responsible for the sound management (financial, program, personnel, insurance and property) of the organization and compliance with governmental regulations.
    • Help determine policy.
    • Monitor the implementation of policy, the strategic plan and the success of programs.
    • Keep informed about the organization's financial health.
    • Approve and monitor the annual budget.
    • Hire, evaluate (yearly) and, if necessary, fire the executive director.
    • Be familiar with, adhere to and recommend necessary amendments to the bylaws of the organization.
    • Attend board meetings, the annual meeting and the board retreat.
    • Participate in an orientation session.
    • Serve on committees as needed.
    • Read all advance materials before coming to the board meeting.
    • Hold in confidence within the board personal information learned about clients, members, staff or other board members.
    • Hold in confidence board discussions of personnel, property negotiations and legal matters.
    • State any conflicts that arise during the member's tenure on the board, and make sure the minutes of the meeting reflect the statement of those conflicts and appropriate abstentions from voting.
    • Remember that the member's major job is to govern and to do so in an attitude of reasonable care, honesty and good faith.
    • Take the initiative and communicate ideas to the board chair.
    • Share expertise with the organization.
    • Don't micromanage and meddle in staff work but communicate any concerns to the board chair of the organization.
    • Advocate for the organization with the community.
    • Encourage and support volunteer involvement in the work of the organization.
    • Look for new leadership to recommend to the nominating committee and encourage new people to accept if chosen.
    • Support organization-sponsored events with money and attendance.
    • Contribute to the financial stability of the organization and encourage others to do so.
    • Visit organization-sponsored programs.
    • Participate in a yearly evaluation of the board's operations


~ Coming months: The job description of the Board Chair and the Executive Director. ~


Jeanne H. Bradner

Jeanne H. Bradner is an author, consultant, trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership. She is the author of three publications, Passionate Volunteerism, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today. She served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management curriculum.

Send your comments and questions to Jeannebrad@aol.com.

Copyright 2001 by Nancy Macduff.


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