- Explore the organisation’s purpose, structure, reports, financial health, role and the Board/Committee team that you’ll potentially be joining to see if there’s a good ‘fit’ and alignment with your skills and interests
- The organisation’s legal structure and insurance influences the level of personal risk you are exposed to so it’s important to explore that too
For many people it’s likely that you’re already connected to the organisation whose Committee you may be joining – so you probably know a bit about the organisation and its purpose. The most important thing to think about is the fit between you and the organisation – its purpose; where it’s heading, and who else is on the governance committee(s). Some key things to understand are the main activities the organisation undertakes, the plans that it has in place (such as a strategic plan); expectations around your role and the time commitment required of Committee or Board members; understanding its legal structure and what that means for individual board members, and whether the organisation has insurances in place for its governance activities (often known as “Directors and Officers Insurance”). This information will help build your understanding of how the organisation is run and help you decide whether it’s for you.
The organisation’s Constitution is a good starting point to understand the purpose of the organisation and internal rules about how decisions are made. Another source of useful information may be in recent documents such as an Annual Report or an annual information statement that summarises the organisation’s activities and financial status. You could also ask to look at minutes from a recent Governance meeting or review the organisation’s strategic or operational plans.
Ask about the organisation’s legal structure and what insurance policies it has.
Ask for details about how the organisation is set up, its purpose in its Constitution, and whether it has a forward plan and that will help you find out if your interests align with that organisation.
Each organisation reports in some way each year about what it has done and how it has been run over the past year. Check the organisation’s website or ask for a copy of its last annual report or statement
Want more? ... check out these resources
Online article and checklist – Institute of Community Directors – 8 minute read
This great factsheet from the Institute of Community Directors gives you really specific questions to ask the Board you are about to join … and yourself …. and a super-helpful checklist of points to consider before you take the plunge.
Online search – Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission – 30 second search
Find out what the ACNC knows about the organisation you are about to join with this simple-to-use search. If your organisation is a registered charity it will lead you to recent information about its financial position and latest report to the ACNC … and whether there are any issues the ACNC is concerned about. If your organisation is not a registered charity (quite a few community organisations are not), you won’t find anything here …. but that’s useful information in itself.
Online search – Australian Securities and Investments Commission – 30 second search
You can find out more information about companies limited by guarantee on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website via their simple search tool.
Online article – Institute of Community Directors - 6 minute read
This is a pretty good guide to the key documents you need to know about, and peruse, as you consider joining your organisation’s Committee or Board.