In this article we’ll share with you the contents of the board member’s binder that we have developed for our association management clients.

The binder serves at four primary purposes:

  • It is an orientation resource for new members
  • It is evidence of the board’s work for existing board members
  • It acts as a policy manual
  • It helps board members stay organized

There are four sections in this binder:

Section 1 – Role and Governance

Effective governance has the following characteristics: it is efficient, allows a respectful conflict of ideas, is simple, focused, integrated and synergistic, has good outcomes, and ensures the organization’s sustainability.

Effective governance is about the processes for making and implementing decisions. It’s not about making correct decisions, but about the best possible process for making those decisions.

This section’s contents include:

Role, Mission and Values
Envisioned Future
Strategic Plan
Association Planning Overview
Board of Directors’ Ground Rules
Board/Executive Director Roles and Responsibilities
Executive Limitations
Parliamentary Procedure (Rules of Order)
Board Calendar
Board of Directors Contact List

Section 2 –Policy and Procedure

Policy statements detail how things are done. Well-written and designed policy statements are general enough that frequent revision is unnecessary.
Often policy statements include very specific instructions/procedures. A travel policy statement, for example, addresses when and how board travel expenses are reimbursed; the procedures section of it details how much the reimbursement is for mileage.1

This section’s contents include:

Policy Manual Updating
Committee Membership
Signing Authority
Travel Policy
Expense Report
Board Duties and Responsibilities
Board Self-Evaluation
Board Self-Evaluation Form
Reserve Fund
Record Retention
Budget Approval

Section 3 – Organization Components

The organization components section of a board member’s binder provides terms of reference for:

Board of Directors
Executive Director/Chair/Chief Staff Officer
Board Liaison to Committees
Committee Chairs
Committee Chair Job Descriptions
–      Committee Structure
–      Volunteer Commitment Document and Contract

Section 4 – Board Tools

The final section of our board binders contains an ever growing number of third-party written articles of value to a board member.

Four Obligations of Leadership
Three Basic Functions of the Board
Board Legal Roles and Responsibilities
Fiduciary Responsibilities
Building a Knowledge-Based Association
Four Knowledge Bases
Ten Traits of Resilient Organizations
In a Knowledge-Based Organization
Three Components
Dialogue before Deliberation
How to Listen in Skillful Dialogue
Own Your Idea
A Framework for Dialogue and Deliberation: Nine Steps:
–      Types of Consensus
–      Principles of Consensus
–      Tips on Consensus

The following are several articles on association management that have stood out in the “Harvard Business Review” that might be of interest of your association’s board members, and might be a fit for your association’s board binder:

“How Much Board Turnover is Best?”

There may be a link between board turnover and organizational performance.

According to the article’s authors’ research, a turnover of one to two new board members each year, based on their study of S&P 500 companies, improves organizational performance.

The worst performing companies had no changes in directors over a three to five-year period.

The article’s lead author, George M. Ander, is with Spencer Stuart, a firm who focus includes creating “effective boards [that] have a positive and long-term impact on their organizations, bringing confidence to shareholders and other stakeholders.” The firm’s Research and Insight webpages contain research findings that could benefit some associations and their leaders.

Top 2013 Harvard Business Review Article

The Focused Leader” was chosen as HRB’s top article. It argues, “Attention is the basis of the most essential of leadership skills.”

The article concludes, “My goal here is to place attention center stage so that you can direct it where you need it when you need it. Learn to master your attention, and you will be in command of where you, and your organiza¬tion, focus.”

1 We recommend to our clients that mileage be reimbursed at the same rate used by the federal government; the amount of the reimbursement paid by the federal government is different for each province/territory and is typically revised two to four times per year retrieved August 26, 2015.