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Does your heritage organization have a board handbook?

February 28, 2019

In our 2018 Survey of Digital Heritage Collections in Oregon, we asked survey takers what written plans and policies their organization has in place. Of the 178 organizations that responded to the survey, only 70 (that’s roughly 39%) affirmed that they have a board handbook.

Why have a board handbook?

Board handbooks are important tools for new and existing board members to quickly access legal, planning, operational, and personnel policies and documents for your organization. Handbooks can, and should be used to orient new board members to the organization, but they are also a useful reference tool for existing board members. Placing essential charters and documents in one place allows your organization to clearly explain where you’ve been and where you’re headed. This makes it much easier to set board member expectations and can be referred back to for quality control and to answer logistical questions that come up. Ultimately, a board handbook provides board members information upfront so they can make solid decisions moving forward.

What should be in a board handbook? (While contents may vary among organizations, here are some suggestions of what to include. )

  • Organization Mission Statement
  • List of Board Members- Names, addresses, short biographies
  • Board Member Job Description
  • By-laws
  • Organizational Chart
  • Committee List- with assignments of all board and staff members
  • Strategic Plan- including goals, objectives and committee work plans
  • Operating Policies of the Board
  • Confidentiality Statement
  • Conflict of Interest Statement
  • Short History of the Organization
  • Minutes- from the last year
  • Staff Job Descriptions- presented in brief outline form
  • List of Programs- with descriptive data
  • Budget
  • Audited Financial Statements- for the previous year
  • Marketing & Promotion Materials
  • Sources of Funding
  • Glossary of Terms

Board members need to know what their job is and how they can be most effective in doing that job, and a board handbook is one tool for nonprofit organizations to provide a solid orientation to board members. Join us for the 2019 Heritage Summit to dig deeply into the theory and practice behind great boards.

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