The team members at HMA Public Relations have always been actively involved in the community, both as volunteers and as members of boards of directors. Board service has included leadership roles within our industry such as PRSA and IABC or within community and nonprofit organizations. There are good business reasons to be involved in the community, but more importantly it gives each of us an opportunity to give back to an organization or cause that has meaning to us.
But no matter the reason, there are certain obligations that come along with agreeing to serve on a board. And according to Guidestar, these obligations fall in two categories: support and governance.
In the role of "supporter" board members raise money, bring contacts to the organization and act as ambassadors to the community. Equally important, the "governance" role involves protection of the public interest, being a fiduciary, selecting the executive director and assessing his/ her performance, ensuring compliance with legal and tax requirements, and evaluating the organization's work.
It is a serious commitment when you say yes to an organization. Yes, you’re going to be expected to get involved on a committee. Yes, you’re going to be expected to fundraise. And yes, you’re going to have to make a personal financial contribution somewhere along the way.
But, to me, the number-one responsibility of a board member is to ensure the fiscal health of the organization.
So don’t just write a check and consider your job complete. Take the time to read the financial statements, ask questions, and know what’s happening with the whole organization. That’s what will make you a good and valued board member and that’s what will make that organization even stronger.