To help your board members become focused and productive, make sure they have the following information on hand. Some of it may be a standard part of your board manual; the other materials can be distributed as they become available.
1. Strategic plans and operating budgets illuminate the association’s vision and mission for the long and short term. These documents should outline measurable goals, work in harmony with one another, and point toward rational, achievable outcomes.
2. Bylaws direct the way your members want their association to operate, the authority they extend to the leadership, and the responsibilities they assign.
3. Board policies reflect the directors’ accumulated wisdom, their values, and how they wish to approach a range of issues. Being familiar with policies helps avoid plowing old ground.
4. Committee guidelines define each advisory group’s charge; to whom or to which group the committee reports; its budget and intended composition (if any); and the tenure of its members.
5. Board minutes focus on action the group has taken and preempt ill-informed and distracting questions on intent and objectives.
6. Authority annotations clarify who among the directors, chief elected officer, and chief staff executive is expected to do what. Ideally, spell out the expectations (such as in a matrix) to be approved by the board.
7. Volunteer leader descriptions and any contract summaries help directors keep prerogatives in perspective.
8. Organizational charts clarify authority and reporting relationships.
9. Member surveys or analyses shed light on constituents’ wants, needs, and expectations.
10. Program and project analyses summarize objectives, assumptions, budgets, benchmarks, number of members to be served, dates, and the like.
By Gerard F. Hurley, CAE. Reprinted from Association Management,