For a while it has been clear that the model of a few board members making a five hour per month time commitment is incoherent with the responsibilities and expectations that sit with the board. As you may know, we have already started planning for the recruitment of advisory board members to help provide extra expertise and capacity in specific areas where we find ourselves lacking, such as legal, fundraising and accounting.
Beyond that, we have also looked closely at how we operate and collaborate as a board. From talking to board members in other organizations, as well as a professional board coach, we have decided to redesign ourselves. This may change as we discover what works and what doesn’t, but here is the first iteration:
From monthly to bi-monthly board meetings. The meetings are great for touching base, reporting back and discussion, however they are less effective for getting work done. Having a board meeting every month takes up approximately 20 hours of board time collectively. On a five hour a month schedule, that’s more than half! Therefore, we are moving to bi-monthly board meetings, which leaves us room for…
Committees. This doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but this is a fairly standard way for a board to operate. Each committee focuses on a specific area of board work and reports back to the rest of the board at the bi-monthly board meeting. This means the bulk of actual work is done in smaller groups, allowing the board as a whole to cover more bases. If issues arise during committee work or decisions or discussions are needed, they can be brought up at the next board meeting.
Each committee is required to have at least two board members and must be led at all times by one of these two. Committees can be open or closed depending on the topic, but the reporting back at the board meeting is always open unless there is specific justification for closing an agenda item. There are currently six committees in various stages of development. If you want to see what they are about, some now have terms of reference (ToR) available (and others will follow).
It is important to note that committees are not working groups and do not replace them. As you will see from the ToRs, each committee performs a function that the board is responsible for and, for board members, they are an obligatory part of the role from now on.
Why are we telling you this? Because, we, the board, are still voting members of HOT and HOT community members - that’s why we are here. How HOT is run is important and we believe you should know about the decisions that affect HOT, our community of generous volunteers, our fantastic staff and our mission.
Why else are we telling you this? It is board election time soon and any voting member can run to be a board member. If the above sounds interesting and you have time and skills to contribute, you should consider it.
Any questions? We reserve time at the end of every board meeting for voting member questions. Come and join us next time and we can discuss.