All about boards

Purpose of a board

Whether big or small, nation-wide or locally-based, the role of most boards is to: provide purpose, leadership, direction and overall strategy for the organisation or facility they are presiding over. The board must ensure that the finances are sound, operations are legal, procedures work, assets are safeguarded and all tasks are carried out in the public interest.

A board is a group of people who supervise, manage or govern an organisation, company or facility, or those charged with providing advice or making decisions on a particular issue.  All not-for-profit corporations must have a board of unpaid volunteers to oversee the operations. This is a distinguishing characteristic of the not-for-profit sector. These governing bodies are not always known as boards and can be called a variety of other names, including committees and governing councils.

How boards work

All boards must follow a particular set of rules; what form those rules take will usually depend on how the board was formed and what roles it carries out.  Boards are guided in their operations by governing documents.  Whatever form the rules take, most will indicate:

  • How the board must be established
  • The board’s power boundaries
  • Number of members and length of their terms
  • Election or appointment of members and procedures to fill irregular vacancies
  • What office holders the board must have and how they should be elected or appointed
  • Office holders’ roles and responsibilities
  • Procedures for removing board members
  • Meeting requirements, including meeting rules and procedures