Defining Roles for Board members

Ohio AMC PresidentAs an association executive, my full-time job is to manage associations so that the minds of the Board members are put at ease knowing the day-to-day administration of the association is constantly moving forward.  After all, Association Management Companies know that Board members have full-time jobs and that their roles in the association is voluntary. However, to make sure the association runs smoothly, and to ensure member involvement throughout the year, it is important to define roles for your Board of Directors.

Defining roles means more than assigning titles. Everyone knows to some degree the roles of the President, Vice President, Secretary, etc.. What is more important is to ensure that your Board takes ownership of their Association by handling point positions for key events. One way to start to accomplish this is to make sure that each Board member is responsible for one or two items throughout the membership year.

For example, you can have the Vice President be responsible for creating the line-up of speakers for each of your association meetings.  By asking the VP to reach out to potential speakers you are ensuring that the topics discussed will be of content directly of interest to your members. In addition, you will most likely experience a higher rate of agreement from potential speakers when they are approached from a colleague or industry insider.

Another option that has worked in the past include assigning a member the responsibility of organizing a particular seminar that is held each year. By rotating the responsibility for the same seminar each year, each Board member will become fluent with the specifics of that seminar, from content to attendees. An additional benefit to this program includes a better working relationship between the Association Management Company, Executive Director and/or Account Executive and that Board member. Since the Board member will be working directly with the Association Management Company, Executive Director and/or Account Executive making arrangements for the event, this schedule can pay dividends in the long run especially for Associations that often sees new Presidents elected from lower Board positions.

There are also more simple roles that you can define for your association Board members.  Specify that it is the Secretary’s role to greet attendees as they arrive at your events or ask a Director/Trustee to be the point person for any media inquiries throughout the year.

Along with a Board of Directors, many larger associations may have a number of Committee Chairs who are responsible for certain aspects of the association. Committees are a very effective way to get more of your membership involved and an excellent way to create camaraderie among members. It is important to identify each committee’s responsibilities and  whether their roles will overlap with those of the Board members.  Either way, it is important to define roles for your Board members so that they know exactly what is expected of them each year.  Because an association will always be secondary to a Board member’s full-time career, it is necessary to make their role as simple and easy as possible, without sacrificing their needed involvement in the organization’s activities.

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