Once you go through the process of recruiting board members, it is important to let each person know what is expected of them through a job description. Just as you would not accept a position without knowing what you would be required to do, it is the same with the volunteer board role. You will want to have written job descriptions for your board members; however, ideally, you will want to take the commitment a step further by having each board member sign an annual board commitment letter.
The board commitment letter essentially becomes an agreement that the board member recognizes and accepts what they are responsible for as board members. Having a board commitment letter will help if you are asking questions such as:
- Why do board members not attend board meetings?
- Why aren’t board members serving on our committees?
- Why aren’t our board members contributing to the organization?
- Why don’t board members attend our events or functions?
And, likewise, the commitment letter will provide direction for board members so they know how they are expected to participate in the work of the organization.
Before implementing a board commitment letter you will want to have a discussion with your board to determine the areas that are important and essential for your organization. But, the following is a general checklist of what needs to be included:
- Board attendance policy
- Event participation (both organizational activities and fundraising events)
- Committee participation
- Giving expectations
You may also want to outline responsibilities in the areas of finances, legal responsibilities, staffing and length of the term being served. Be sure to include the mission statement and the importance of having the board serve the organization.
While a full re-write of the board commitment letter is probably not a good idea on an annual basis, it will be important to review the letter on an annual basis and make tweaks as necessary. Each board member will need to sign the letter; then they will be kept in the official files maintained by the secretary.
On a side note, we get many questions from frustrated executive directors and board presidents because board members are not doing what needs to be done…or what the individual feels they should be doing. The Board Commitment Letter provides you with a powerful, but gentle way to ensure board members are aware of their responsibilities. In addition, it can serve as an accountability tool because board members will begin to hold each other accountable. And, there is something really powerful about peer accountability.
Ready to write a board commitment letter? Contact us today!