The Board of an association exists to guide the vision and strategic direction of the organisation. All Board members, along with the management team, are working towards this shared goal, which can sometimes make it challenging to decide who is responsibility for individual tasks.
However, allocating specific roles and tasks to Board members helps to delineate between the responsibilities of the Board and those of the executive. It can also assist to ensure that each Board member feels that they are a valued and important asset to the association, able to bring their own skill sets and experiences to their role.
Before allocating tasks to individual Board members, it is important to understand the roles and responsibilities of the Board as a collective. The Board are responsible for the overall governance of an association’s values, mission and strategic objectives. Their focus is not on daily operations – this is managed by the association CEO and other employees.
Many key tasks completed by the Board will be done collaboratively. For example, the Board should be working together to make major decisions about policy, to create a strategic vision for the future, and to oversee financial performance.
However, within these larger responsibilities are several small tasks that may be assigned to specific individuals.
For example, the Treasurer of the Board may be given the task of preparing a budget for the next financial year. The Secretary of the Board may be tasked with preparing the agenda for the AGM and inviting all parties.
Outside of these regular tasks, there may be additional undertakings that are specific to the skill sets and experience of Board members. For example, a Board member with extensive knowledge of the legislative environment could be tasked with preparing a brief on how best to advocate for a policy change in your association’s industry.
A Board member with a marketing background could be charged with mentoring the CEO and other staff on the best ways to manage a recruitment campaign for new members. A Board member who has worked in human resources could be given the task of preparing a shortlist of candidates for CEO.
It is important to keep in mind that if the association does not have staff or a CEO, then Board members may be expected to take on a more operational role—they will need to act as volunteers.
A typical example is when the Director of a not-for-profit association is also responsible for heading up the organising committee for the annual conference. In this situation, the Director will have both a governance responsibility and a operational role. As such, they will need to act as directed by the Board and report to the Board as if they were paid staff or volunteers.
The Director may empowered to make certain decisions, such as engaging suppliers, or other operational decisions. However, the authorisation must be confirmed by a Board decision and recorded in the meeting minutes. The authorisation (and minutes) should detail what the Director is responsible for, their level of authority, and the reporting regime.
One of the biggest issues is that people are time poor; well-meaning Directors volunteer and burn out quickly. It is better to find professional help through organisations like Association Executive Services who are very experienced and efficient.
Allocating tasks to high performing professionals requires more finesse than simply giving jobs to employees. Because the tasks assigned to Board members are usually more complex and with greater importance in outcome, it is vital that tasks are allotted successfully.
over 30 years of management expertise, Executive Director and Founder of AES, Nick Koerbin is one of the most experienced NFP leaders in
Australia. He has held positions as the CEO of Materials Australia, the National Parts Code, as well as senior positions in the Institute
of Insurance, Australian Quality Council, the Financial Planning Association, the Australian Human Resources Institute, and the Furniture
Industry Association of Australia. Nick created AES with a vision of creating a set of management practices that could be consistently
followed to ensure success. Over his 30 years in the industry, he noticed that inconsistent management practices often impeded delivery of
services to members, which in turn created issues with membership renewal. By establishing AES and creating the NFP Association Best
Practice Self-Assessment, Nick has been able to assist leaders in becoming more confident and informed decision makers so that they can
create more effective strategies and implementation plans.
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