Board Job Descriptions: Why You Need Them
Do you have board job descriptions? Without them, your members have a fuzzy picture of what the board does, and you could be keeping members from taking on board roles. You could also find yourself with stressed, burned out board members disengaging midway through their terms because they weren’t prepared for what they stepped into.
With the transparency that comes with job descriptions, chapters see:
- Reduction in volunteer burnout. When you include time commitments and detailed responsibilities, members know what’s expected of them.
- Improvement in board involvement and engagement. Board members see how they relate to each other and fit into the chapter.
- Stronger relationships between board members. When board members understand the roles of other board members, there’s less task overlap and “stepping on toes.”
- More clarity for evaluating performance and recognizing achievements. With documented responsibilities, it’s easier to see how board members perform against expectations and reward them for jobs well done.
- Simpler board recruitment. Are you seeing a decline in volunteers? Are board members leaving and replacements hard to find? Members are pulled in countless directions, and a board role may be the last thing on their mind. Job descriptions can help improve your volunteer numbers and retention, by setting expectations and engaging members early.
What should you include in job descriptions? Review the sample description below, and you’ll see that at a minimum, members want to know the:
- Time commitments
- Reporting relationships
We also recommend adding the “why.” Getting members into board roles takes some selling. Why would your members want to give up some of their free time for a board role? What would they gain? Get them interested by touching on things that are important to them.
Can your finance VP be good with numbers but not need to be a CPA or bookkeeper? Include that. If there’s a mentor for the incoming president, include that too. A member concerned about taking on a board role may step forward if they know the past president is available during her transition. The current president may be happy knowing that once he steps down, he can still be involved with the board, by mentoring the new president or being the president emeritus.
Don’t forget to include the benefits all board members see. In these roles, members:
- Expand their network
- Meet people passionate about your industry
- Develop leadership skills
- Have fun!
Ask your board members to review your existing job descriptions. Revise them as necessary and create new ones where it makes sense. (This isn’t a static exercise but should be repeated as necessary to ensure nothing has changed.) Since this exercise takes time, it’s a good one for the summer, when board members have less chapter business to attend to.
To get you started on your path to a highly effective, engaged board, we've included a general President board description. Keep in mind that some of these tasks may not apply to your organizations.
Term: One year or as determined by the Board of Directors and chapter bylaws
The president must be:
- A member in good standing who previously served as the President Elect
- Knowledgeable of chapter activities
- Willing to give the time and energy required of this position
- Run board meetings providing president reports
- Prepare and send reports to national organization
- Manage all other chapter officers on the board
- Establish and implement annual budget
- Ensure chapter adherence to bylaws
- Attend Board and executive committee meetings
- Attend chapter meetings and events
- All other related activities as necessary