The Center for Association Resources

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Is an association management firm focused on helping Non-Profit associations succeed in their mission.

Choosing a Good Board


Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Every organization needs a good mix of board members to be most effective. The mix should comprise of people who have a solid interest in the work of the association and believe in the direction it is going.

Each board member should be able to solidly hold up an area of importance so that when different issues come up, there will be a place to turn for free and respectable advice.

Some areas that should be covered by any organization are leadership, legal, social, subject knowledge, history of the organization, financial and the public media.  Not every organization will be able to cover all their needs with their boards, and each organization will have specialized needs that will have to be identified.

For instance, if an organization is set up for race car safety, they probably don’t need a board member who is knowledgeable in the area of high tea parties. Then again, if a group needs to bring a lawsuit to bring about the enforcement of a law, it would be really nice to have a lawyer or two on the board.  Even if they don’t do the work themselves due to busy schedule or specialization, they can advise whom to see and how to set up the case for clarity and focus.

A socially savvy board member knows people who know people and they can tell more people about the group and it’s thrust.  They know best how to set up fundraisers and how to get people of distinction as honored speakers.  These board members are the heart of the group and keep the group alive.

A member of the media or a media member’s spouse or close relative can help any group immensely.  Just keeping the organization’s name in front of the media with the help of a good and honest and accurate media person is key.  Aim to get one of these people on your board until you get one.  They are that important!

One of the best resources an association can have is a person who has a knowledge of what the association has done in previous years.  This person will have an understanding of what works well, what has been done and over done and underdone. This person has an innate sense of the group and is part of the brain…an excellent resource for the group because many things are not written down, or information is lost. A good human memory bank is priceless.

The other must have association resource is one or more people who know the subject matter well. If your group’s reason to exist is to protect orphaned children, you must have someone who knows children well and orphaned children especially well.  If your group covers the protection of a particular beetle, you must have on hand a natural scientist of some kind to help the organization attain believability.

A board member with accounting background can help in many ways, including help with taxes, training employees, and banking and if you are fortunate enough you will have another to help with investing.

Last, but not least, a leader, a board member who will stay with the group, lead the others and is probably the founder of the group, so you don’t have to worry too much about choosing, but if you do, be sure and find someone who has previous experience.

A few final tips…

  • Be sure that all your board members will be able to attend most if not all meetings, and are interested enough to read the minutes of missed meetings.
  • Big name board members are nice on paper but rarely have time to help in real time.
  • And make sure potential board members get along with others.
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Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Leadership, Non-Profit, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , , , , , , ,

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