Board Responsibility

How to Grow an Award Winning Board

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GIVE! GET! OR GET OFF! … How often have you heard that one. Too simplistic? Of course it is; for while seeing to it that the agency has sufficient funds with which to run the program is a vital Board responsibility, all Boards of Directors have several other equally important responsibilities.

Typically there are eight fundamental areas for which any governing Board of Directors is responsible. There will be other responsibilities which relate to specific fields of service, but these eight may be regarded as universal.

  1. Achieving the stated purpose and objectives of the organization.
  2. Making policies and plans. Only the Board of Directors can make final policy decisions and most of the agency’s plans will require the Board’s approval.
  3. Raising and managing the organization’s funds. Seeing to it that there is enough money to achieve the purpose (regardless of who does the actual raising of funds) and that those funds are then prudently managed and expended.
  4. Employing the staff. Not involved in hiring below Executive Director level, but approving < strong >personnel policies, approving salary scales, functioning as a grievance committee and so forth.
  5. Appropriately supervising and annually evaluating the performance of the Executive Director.
  6. Appointing committees. No Board can deal in detail with all of the issues on which it must make decisions. So there must be a well thought out family of committees to which the Board can delegate issues for study, review, evaluation and, finally, for recommendations.
  7. Holding property. Whatever the agency owns, leases or has free use of, the Board is ultimately responsible for the well being of that property; be it land and buildings, investment portfolio, equipment, and so forth.
  8. Leadership development. The quality of the Board of Directors is the ultimate determinant as to the success of the agency. Ongoing leadership development is a must for any Board to assure quality of leadership in the future.

Be honest with yourself now. If you had been given this list in quiz form, would you have thought of all eight? Most Board members will not name them all. Yet every Board is responsible, morally as well as legally, for every item on this list.

As stated earlier, there will be other responsibilities which relate to your specific field of service. Being responsible to see that the agency’s clients or constituents are properly served or cared for; or interpreting the agency’s mission and work to the community, are but two possible examples. Think hard about your field of service and name some others.

Living up to these responsibilities comes right back to that old familiar word commitment. Board service is a commitment and when new members are sought for the Board, they must be asked for commitment. You can be certain that those with the necessary, albeit latent, commitment are out there. After all, this country’s strong tradition of voluntary service goes right back to its roots. But it does take time to find committed Board members and for this reason, your leadership development must be ongoing throughout the agency year.

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