Although joining the board for an organisation can be immensely rewarding and can bring about personal growth and opportunities, many of us have no idea how to actually make it happen.
We’ve compiled some tips on how to get started:
- Do your research. If you have an organisation in mind, take the time to research their background and history. Read a couple of their annual reports, newsletters, and media releases which can be found on their website.
- Research the organisation’s strategic plan, purpose, mission and values – check if these align with you, personally and professionally.
- It’s also important to understand if this is an operational or strategic board. Ask this before you sign up!
- Check out what the membership fees are, costs associated (if any) with involvement i.e., frequency of meetings and how you can attend (Zoom or in-person), expectations, subcommittees in place and functions.
- Find out the date/month of the annual general meeting (AGM) and whether you must attend in-person or if you can dial-in.
- Ask about the cycle of board roles. Some boards are ongoing until resignation or a 1-3 year term if backfilling, or a three year term if appointing. Also check if there is a maximum term.
Ready to apply for a board position?
Here are some suggestions on how to make it happen
- Volunteering for the organisation at an event or activity first is always a good idea. It will help you understand on the ground what the organisation is like. But check this doesn’t impact your ability to become a board member first.
- See if they have any availabilities.
- Ask for a meeting with the CEO and email your expression of interest (EOI) or follow their process for board EOIs.
- Head along to a board meeting introduction to meet everyone prior to completing your application.
- Read all board induction documents and requirements prior to applying.
- Check in with your current workplace that it is OK for you to be on this organisation’s board – just in case there are any risks associated with your involvement.
- Apply to join the board.
- If you are accepted, read the organisation’s constitution, policies and procedures.
- Bear in mind that some boards cannot appoint members between annual general meetings (AGMs), but they can co-op you on (which acts as an excellent probation period).
- Don’t feel obliged to take on everything to help within your board role. Make sure you are only doing things that you can deliver on and don’t over commit.
- Know who to go to when there is an issue.