Do a deep dive into any organization, and you will inevitably come across a board of directors. While responsibilities may vary from one organization to the next, a board is generally responsible for the strategic oversight and success of a business or association.
The number of individuals that comprise a board depends on the organization, how complicated it is to manage the organization, and how many members are mandated by the bylaws. Public companies are required by law to have a board while private membership associations are member-based and free from any local, state, or federal government interference. Private associations also tend to have a board of directors that assists with operations.
Many variables differentiate one organization from another and define the direct responsibilities of its boards. After a thorough board of directors election process, this panel of elected individuals has the responsibility to act in the organization's best interests and on behalf of the members. Following the board of directors' best practices ensures that organizations stick to their vision and goals and continue to evolve in the desired direction.
While the responsibilities of each board might differ, as a general rule, the duties of each member must be fulfilled for an association to operate smoothly, efficiently, and successfully.
Behind every successful organization, there is a clear vision and a powerful mission statement. These two items remind its members why they are a part of the group in the first place and where the organization is headed as a whole.
Having a solid and unified vision allows for better strategizing and execution. The board should know the direction it wants to take and what goals it wants to achieve. Constructing a mission statement and understanding the overall desired trajectory is a critical task the board is expected to perform. It is also one that helps drive the overall success and functionality of the organization.
Whether an organization is public or private, money is often involved. While board members have access to funds, it is not in their best interests to spend irresponsibly. The board is accountable for creating a budget and ensuring that it is followed. Overseeing the budget and conducting internal audits are essential responsibilities for the person elected as Treasurer.
The overall culture of an organization is crucial. It often is one of the factors people use when deciding if they want to join the board and get involved in its activities. The board is generally responsible for creating an overall culture and environment representative of the mission statement, vision, and purpose.
Board members are also responsible for ensuring and maintaining an ethical organization that is fair and in compliance with any set rules or laws. Most PMAs opt to create their own rules that need to be followed. Whether the organization is public or private, the board still has a duty to its members to ensure ethical behavior by all its members and the organization.
Another important role on the board is the Secretary. This person is tasked with overseeing and handling all administrative duties. In addition, this board member is responsible for the proper maintenance of essential records and keeping a database of reports.
Most, if not all, boards have a Chair or President and a Vice Chair or Vice President. These two play extremely important roles on a board. While each has certain obligations, they are responsible for. They are both leaders of the organization.
A board of directors is an essential element of any organization. It represents the best interests of the members and the overall community. Serving on a board means more than just showing up for meetings. It requires dedication and commitment to the mission and the organization's members, and a promise to lead by example while serving the organization.