Being a board member is much more than being a member of an organization, it calls for action and responsibility. Seventeen of our employees at LGT hold a board member role on a variety of professional organizations and would like to share their gained experience and advice they have learned from years of participation to help you become a valuable part of your organization.
1. Be Punctual and Consistently in Attendance
As a representative holding an important role in the success and forward activity in the organization, you need to be at every meeting and be there on time. The board needs to know they can count on you to be there sharing your thoughts, ideas, recommendations and votes, every time.
2. Understand and Support the Mission
Know what you’re supporting and then support it. Constantly work to fulfil the mission of your organization in everything you do, not just while you are at meetings or networking within that community. When others see your enthusiasm, inspiration strikes.
3. Be Passionate
This one really accompanies number 2. Make the organization your passion, be excited about what you provide for the community. In order to do this, make sure you are joining an association you can be excited about, don’t join a board just to boost your resume. Be a part of something you truly care about.
Put your money where your mouth is – if you’re passionate about your organization, you’ll not just champion the organization with your words, but lead by example and show others that you are financially committed, too. Also, organizations that don’t have full financial support among the board can inhibit themselves from receiving funding from foundations, major donors and other grantors.
5. Be Transparent and Expect Transparency
Adopt a Code of Ethics, an Executive Compensation Policy, a Conflict of Interest Policy and other governance and financial policies. Make sure that the organization is practicing due diligence and is honest in all communication to donors. As a Board Member, you should help to define accountability by asking for ways for both the board and the organization to be open, conscientious and honorable in your representation of your cause.
6. Speak Your Mind and Add Your Worth
You were invited to the board because your expertise fits the organization’s needs and also because they represent a cause that you yourself are passionate about. Therefore, put those skills to work and share your opinions, don’t sit back and wait for someone to ask for it. Give your board all of your support by sharing your ideas.
7. Be Ethical
As a member of a board, it’s likely you are asked to sign a conflict of interest form or an acknowledgement of the code of ethics each year of service. Make sure to read the Code of Ethics for your organization, and adhere to the highest standards regarding ethics. A good board member is always morally, legally and financially responsible.
8. Initiate Involvement
Meet with other board members outside of mandatory meetings. Set up lunch dates or grab a coffee to build a stronger relationship and to gain a better understanding of their personal goals for the organization and to find commonality. This can also help your board and committee meetings run smoother in the long run.
9. Listen and Work Well with Others
Take the time to hear out everyone’s thoughts and opinions at board meetings. Even if the ideas may not directly work toward a solution to the issue at hand, oftentimes they can inspire other questions or paths of discussion that ultimately are important to the end goal. And of course, it is important that fellow board members feel that their opinions and ideas are respected.
10. Stay Focused
Meetings are important and should have set goals laid out before beginning, make sure they are being met. The chair should help keep things rolling, but if the board gets stuck talking on a topic for too long, don’t be afraid to offer a shift in discussion and suggest it being further discussed once everything else has been covered. Make sure you are being clear that you want to meet all of the day’s goals, not that you feel the topic is unimportant or don’t care for the opinions being offered.
11.Don’t be Intimidated
Seek to learn and improve. Try not to let others make you feel inexperienced or invaluable. If you are unsure about something, just ask. Those who seek out information are respected for their desire to learn.
12. Offer Your Skills Often
If you have expertise that can complete the task, offer it instead of waiting for someone to recognize your skills. Consider yourself a valuable asset and don’t be afraid to step up and take on a challenge that would normally be outside of your normal scope of responsibilities.
LGT hopes these tips will help you grow and reassess your responsibilities as a board member. If you are not a board member and would like to join a Not-for-Profit board, or if you are on a board that is in need of another member, enroll in our Board Member Bridge here. LGT will create a connect for you based on provided information.