Membership Pro Tip: Get Board Members on Board

Association staff often assume board members know how to be effective right out of the gate. That’s not always the case, which is why an orientation is a good idea.

A lot of times people join association boards because they are committed volunteers and passionate about the organization’s mission and goals. But, unless they specifically seek out governance education, “no one trains you how to be a board member in school,” said Stephanie Cory, principal at Stephanie Cory Consulting. “Sometimes they aren’t experts in board governance, and they aren’t familiar with the fiduciary responsibilities of tax-exempt organizations.”

That’s where orientation that covers the board’s role and what it means to be a good board member comes in.

How Does It Work?

A good onboarding should include information on understanding the association’s bylaws, setting an organizational direction, ensuring the organization has necessary resources, and providing oversight on the three legal duties a board member has: duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty of obedience. It should also cover financial management.

Why Is It Effective?

It makes sure the CEO is supported by a board that understands what its role is. And it also ensures the board is focused on the right areas and that the group is thriving and best serving the association’s mission.

What’s the Benefit?

For the association’s members at large, it allows them to feel secure that the board is doing its job and there is strong volunteer leadership in place for the organization. “Trust is a big factor,” Cory said. It helps members know they have a well-governed organization, resources are being spent appropriately, and their dues is being used in the best way possible.

Board members will be aware of avoiding any conflicts of interest and when to recuse themselves to prevent any private inurement. Overall, it enhances the reputation of the association.

Do you have a membership pro tip? Please share in the comments or send me an email.

(Seiya/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

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