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Which Hat Are You Wearing?

By February 2, 2017No Comments
Board Roles and Responsibilities

When looking at board roles and responsibilities, it helps to understand that each board member wears three different hats, and just as you only wear one hat on your head at a time, board members should only wear one hat (role) at a time. Knowing which hat being worn will help board members know which role they are serving in.

Board Roles and Responsibilities

The Governance Hat

The Governance hat is being worn when the board sits together at the board table to make decisions about the work and future of the organization. This is the legal responsibility assigned to each individual board member by the IRS.  When the Governance hat is being worn, board members have three primary responsibilities:

Duty of Care – Making the best decisions for the organization.  This duty necessitates that you actively participate in the work of the board and make decisions using your best judgment.  It also requires you to ask questions when you need more information to make decisions.

Duty of Loyalty – Acting in the best interest for the organization.  Quite often board members are involved in other organizations or have their own businesses.  When serving on the board, and making decisions on behalf of the organization, the board member needs to always look at what is in the best interest of the organization…putting aside other personal and business interests.

Duty of Obedience – Staying true to the mission of the organization.  This duty also requires that the board ensures that the organization is following all applicable and relevant, local, state and federal laws as well as the written policies of the organization.

It is important to note that the Governance hat is only worn at the board table. In other words, board members do not have the authority to make decisions on their own…in isolation and away from the rest of the group. If it is a board decision, then the full board must make the decision.

[bctt tweet=”The Board Governance hat is only worn during board meetings.” #nonprofit username=”Grantconsultant”]

The Ambassador Hat

When putting on the Ambassador hat, board members need to know that they are representing the organization.  They are the face of the organization—this means that their actions, both positive and negative, can affect the public’s view of the organization.  As an ambassador, it is the responsibility of board members share the good work of the organization with others, getting them on board to support the work of the organization. Thus, choose board members who operate with integrity. (And, remember that board members cannot be effective board members unless they know the programs and services provided by the organization).

The Volunteer Hat

Most organizations, both small and large, have opportunities for volunteering. Depending on the type of the organization, there may be opportunities for volunteering.  Board members should be encouraged to volunteer with the understanding that when doing so they are the same as any other volunteer, they are not functioning as a board member, but instead as a volunteer.  In other words, there are no special perks because they are a board member, they report to staff and take direction in the same way others do.  Remember, as you identify opportunities where volunteer service can be utilized, volunteer opportunities need to align with the mission of the organization.

While many board members want to do a good job and be of service to the organization, they unfortunately, have no idea what they are supposed to do (and what they are not supposed to do). Does your board need training? We can provide training on-site, in our office or virtually. Contact us today to learn more.

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