When considering having a new board member join your charity, it is important to have your charity’s needs at the forefront of your mind.
This means finding someone with the right skillset to complement the existing board, and someone who understands or can integrate into the charity’s culture.
This guidance examines some things charities and their Responsible People should do when looking to bring a new board member into their organisation.
Check your rules
Check your rules and any legislation that applies to your charity to find out the process for appointing a new board member. There is likely a process you must follow, rules about who is eligible and whether you must hold an election or if existing board members are able to just appoint someone to fill the vacancy.
Filling skills or experience gaps
Consider your current board members and the skills and experience they have. Think about any gaps that exist, and what a new member could bring to help your charity achieve its purpose.
You may want to form a sub-committee to manage the selection process.
How will your charity find a candidate?
Think about how you might find a candidate.
Look at your volunteers, your networks or consider placing a public advertisement. There are websites where you can post free notices for board vacancies such as OurCommunity’s Board Matching Service, Pro Bono Australia’s Volunteer Match and Volunteering Australia’s GoVolunteer.
Your charity’s Responsible People may need to discuss how you are going to find a candidate for the role before you embark on your search.
Expectations of the role
Ensure candidates are aware of the expectations of the role, including any legal obligations, such as duties outlined in the ACNC’s Governance Standards.
Be aware that you need to ensure your new board members are suitable to be Responsible People.
Some charities interview candidates so they can explain what they are expecting and answer questions from the candidate.
Once they accept the role, it is a good idea to give them a ‘letter of appointment’. This letter should outline the meeting times, expectations (including key duties and responsibilities) and any other relevant information.
Have a plan for inducting new members. They may need training and support to be successful in their roles and a strong induction processes can help them contribute more quickly.
Consider preparing an induction pack including information such as a copy of your charity’s rules, current and previous financial statements, minutes, reports and relevant ACNC guidance, and information on a charity's ongoing obligations. A ‘buddy’ system may help them settle in quickly.
Notify the ACNC
If you appoint or elect a new member, you must notify the ACNC if that member is a new Responsible Person (and, if required, notify your incorporating regulator).
If you do this on time, there is no fee to pay to the ACNC.
What not to do
- Don’t make assumptions about a person’s experience or expertise – get to know them and check that they feel confident in their ability to fill the role before they make a commitment.
- Don’t try to play down the commitment required to be a board member. This is a serious responsibility and candidates should be aware of the expectations the charity will have of them.
- Don’t rush it! Selecting a board member is an important decision and can take time. Make sure you take the time to conduct a thorough, transparent and merit-based selection process. If your board members are appointed by an election, you may like to consider speaking with candidates well in advance so that they understand what process and what the commitment involves.