For all associations that our company manages, a board binder is created. The board binder stores several important documents and information regarding that association and is an important resource for all board members and association staff.

Why have a board binder?

The board binder serves a number of purposes:

  • New board member orientation resource – all new board members are sent out a board binder prior to or at their first meeting of the board
  • Holds the history of the board – the past and present board’s work
  • Acts as a policy manual
  • Keeps board members efficient and organized – includes key dates and contact information related to the association

So, what’s in your board binder?

The board binder should be created with all board members in mind, but specifically those who are new to the association’s board of directors. If you are new to volunteering on an association board, I recommend you read one of my past blogs.

Below is a list of items/documents that you should have in your association board binder:

1. Title page and table of contents

Your board binder should start with a title page and table of contents. The table of contents is great to have so the members are not searching through the document for that one specific item/topic. I also recommend having the board binder sorted in sections, this will be discussed below.

2. Introduction to the association

The introduction is like a welcome to your association. It should include what the role of the association is as well as its’ mission statement. A board member contact list can be added in this section.

3. Board policy statements

Policies are the rules for the association, they state appropriate standards of action and behavior for all board members.

Types of policy statements include:

  • Policy manual updating
  • Signing authority
  • Travel policy – this would be for national associations who have to travel to meetings.
  • Conflict of interest policy, including a page to be signed by the board member regarding any conflict of interest
  • Board duties and responsibilities. Included here would be the roles of the board members versus the roles of the association staff. This information can also be included in the operations manual as noted in point six.
  • Budget approval and investment policies
  • Record retention
  • Membership: committees – below is an example of this policy statement


The President will approve membership on all Board committees and ad hoc/sub-committees.


Approval is normally done at the first Board meeting of the year. At this meeting, a master list of all members will be circulated to all committee chairs for review and selection. This master list will be updated annually.

Read my past blog to learn more about creating policies

4. Expected annual schedule of events

A calendar of dates when the board will usually meet and any events that typically occur ie. Strategic planning, budget review, annual meeting, etc.

5. Association Bylaws, Constitution and/or Code of Ethics document.

For more information on Association Bylaws, read more here.

6. Operations Manual

Includes terms of reference and responsibilities of the board members and the standing committees. The operations manual should include the board and committee structure and any member application documents.

Here is an example of a terms of reference:



It shall be the duty of the President to preside at all meetings of the Association and of the Board and to call special meetings of the Board and, upon the advice of the Board, to call special meetings of the Association.

The President shall have the right to vote on all questions submitted at any meeting at which he or she presides and, in the event of an equality of votes, he or she shall have a second or casting vote.


  • The President will appoint the Vice – Chairs of the standing committees for the new term.
  • The President will chair all meetings of the Association and the Board of Directors. When the President is unable to attend a meeting, he or she will designate a replacement from the Board of Directors to preside in his or her place

7. Appendix

In the appendix, a copy of the current directors and officer’s liability insurance, as well as the association management agreement (contract), should be included to ensure that all board members are aware of the role that the association staff have been contracted to do.

The association board binder holds a lot of vital information. It is very important that the binder is reviewed and updated yearly to reflect the current status of the association and board of directors. With today’s technology, I recommend having an electronic version of your board binder, as it makes it easily accessible to all board members at all times.