Mrs Nanja is a board member at the Cooking Club. She was Chidi’s teacher at school and is now retired. This week Chidi needed help, and Mrs Nanja joined the activity. Chidi was initially nervous, but Mrs Nanja made it clear that she was there to help Chidi, not to take over. The activity was a great success. Mrs Nanja was impressed by how the girls responded to Chidi’s encouragement, and she came away with a deeper understanding of the issues the young women coming to the Cooking Club faced.

Your organisation or project may have a board also involved in delivering activities, or you may have paid staff who are not on the board but who are responsible for implementing the strategies agreed by the board. The board ensures that staff or others do what they are entrusted with. 

Good governance means that everyone involved in your project – staff, volunteers and board members – is clear about their responsibilities to ensure the project is successful. For board members that will include:

  • Long-term strategy. 
  • Ensuring activities are meeting the agreed aims and strategy.
  • Ensuring the organisation is run in a way that is legal, responsible and effective.
  • Having policies in place to ensure this, including keeping girls and young women safe.
  • Being accountable to those with an interest or ‘stake’ in the organisation, such as parents, donors, and the girls themselves.

Two hats

We don’t know, but many of us have had moments like this. We have been enthusiastic about sometimes board members of established organisations, such as Nanjala, also volunteer. It’s important for both staff, volunteers and board members to remember that the board member isn’t automatically in charge of the activity. In fact, if Nanjala isn’t leading this activity, she should be treated with the same respect as every other team member. It can take time to help board members and staff members recognise their responsibilities and understand that, for the organisation to have the greatest impact, the talents and expertise of everyone need to be allocated accordingly.

Reflection Questions

  1. Do you know who your board members are?
  2. Do you know what their responsibilities are?
  3. Are they involved in ways other than their governance responsibilities?
  4. Do you find that there are challenges when they do different roles? How do you overcome this?

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