It can be exciting to find out that a new slate of directors has been nominated to serve on your association’s board of directors. It’s a promise of new ideas, new perspectives and positive change.

What if you were approached to join your association’s board? Would you know what to expect? Doing your due diligence is always an important thing. Spending time on the association’s website, and reading any other information or articles that are published will help you to decide if you want the responsibilities of serving on the board.

Good boards need a diverse skill set and diverse perspectives so not everyone will be starting at the same place. Here are some simple things you can do to prepare for a new board appointment and begin your term as an effective contributor.

1. Read the By-Laws

By-laws should always be readily available for you to read as they are the structural foundation of your association. By-laws must be approved by the members and are the “rules” that govern the association.

This will give you an idea of all the rules that need to be followed about membership dues, powers and duties of the board and executive, responsibilities of the members, the types of committees that should be elected, the frequency of meetings, how long your term is on the board, and the process for making amendments to the by-laws. This will ensure that business is being properly conducted.

2. Review the Vision and Mission of the Association

This describes who we the association is, what they do and why they exist. This aids in guiding decisions about priorities, responsibilities and actions that should be taken. This should show a representation of your association while communicating its important ideas and goals.

To understand where the association is going it is important to understand where it has been and where it wants to go in the future.

Having this in place is good as it guides your association’s work. This will assist you to think of ideas for making the association more successful.

3. Review Positions, Roles and Responsibilities

Knowing all the positions on the board will help you to decide if you want to be on the board or not. Asking for the board binder is a good way to keep updated as to any developments or changes in the board. It also mentions anything that is new in the association like a list of the board members with their contact information. The binder is a good orientation resource for new members, it shows the board’s work for existing board members and it helps the board members ensure that they remain organized and prepared. It is also something that they have for reference in case they have questions or concerns.

If you find something that you are particularly passionate about, try joining a committee or suggesting that a task force be formed to address issues that you find may need to be addressed.

It is also important to remember that being a board member is a lot of work and requires ongoing commitment. There are minutes to read, meetings to attend, emails to respond to and phone calls to make. All this needs to be done in a timely manner to be an effective member of the board and ensure that deadlines are met.

4. Financial Management

It is important to be familiar with the resources you have available as this will help you to know what you are working with to better prepare for the future of the association.

This will help you with planning the events and initiatives that the association participates in and what should be done in the future. Knowing which ones were successful in the past is an important thing to note. Considering what the biggest expenses were and then planning on how to reduce those expenses for the following will help you to save more money.

Being prepared for joining a board is important and can make the experience exciting and rewarding. These steps can ensure that you are updated on what is happening with the board and will ensure you are indeed ready to be an active participant. Don’t forget that being on the board is hard work at times and time consuming but it is also a rewarding experience that can lead to significant personal and professional growth!