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2.3 Boards and Committees

Your club’s constitution and rules should set out the club structure in relation to a board and/or committee of management.

A club’s board enables the organisation to be run effectively by applying good governance principles and practices. The board’s role is to govern and should not be involved in management or operational decision-making. The trend today is for sport clubs and associations to have far smaller skill-based boards with greater use of management committees.

2.2.1 Role of the board

The role of the board is to:

  • Set objectives, define policy and develop strategic direction
  • Incorporate good governance and ethical standards into daily activities
  • Specify the delegation of the chair, executive officer (whether paid or volunteer) and board
  • Ensure the executive officer provides satisfactory leadership, planning, organisation, control and succession
  • Monitor the performance of management and volunteer teams
  • Monitor the performance of the organisation against the agreed goals
  • Ensure plans and actions provide for the organisation’s continuity
  • Manage communication with members and other key stakeholders including the State Sporting Organisation, government, sponsors, etc…
  • Ensure all risks are identified and managed appropriately
  • Clearly identify board and management responsibilities
  • Ensure compliance with policies, laws and regulations
  • Emphasise and concentrate on long-term goals
  • Approve, monitor and review the financial performance of the organisation.

2.2.2 Board composition

The board should comprise of people with an appropriate range of skills that align with the club’s current and future business. Generally, they should:

  • Have the ability to think laterally
  • Have good communication skills
  • Be financially literate
  • Be able to understand and relate to stakeholders
  • Be ethical, honest and trustworthy
  • Be a team player
  • Care about the club.

Members of the board should be given title of Director, and if elected or appointed a portfolio, the title of that portfolio (e.g. Director of Finance). The board should not bind itself to out of date terminology such as Treasurer or Secretary. Ensure there is an independent chair.

Use the Board Skills Matrix template to help understand the skills composition of your Board better.

2.2.3 Other tips

  • Succession Planning and Recruitment: Recruiting board members or volunteers across the club with the appropriate skills and expertise is both important and often very challenging for many organisations. The Institute of Community Directors Australia has developed a series tools, policy templates and help sheets relating to club succession planning and recruitment.  
  • Board size: There are no hard and fast rules regarding board size. It should be appropriate for the size of the organisation. Five to seven is a good rule of thumb for small to medium sized organisations.
  • Board diversity: Evidence suggests that diversity on boards leads to better board performance. A diverse board considers demographic characteristics including gender, age and cultural background, as well as specialist knowledge, skills, ability and social and educational background. 
  • Appointment and selection of board members: For small clubs, a term limit of three years is preferred to ensure the board maintains a level of consistency in decision making, stability and is held accountable for policy and strategy. For larger clubs, a staggered rotation system for board members, with a minimum term of three years before re-election, is a good idea. 
  • Ethics and code of conduct: Your club should consider developing a code of conduct that defines acceptable standards of personal behaviour, including for the Board.
  • Board independence: Most individuals on the board should be genuinely independent and not people who are retained as professional advisers.
  • Role and function of the chair: The main role is leadership, ensuring effectiveness in all aspects of the governance role. The chair manages meetings and ensures that the board is balanced, and board discussion is open and includes all directors. It is also the chair’s responsibility to ensure that relevant issues are included in the agenda and that all directors receive timely information for meetings.
  • Management committees: Management committees should relieve the board of certain tasks and be developed to capitalise on the specialist skills of people willing to contribute their time and expertise. Committees should create terms of reference and circulate minutes of each meeting to the board and management as well as report to the board at least once a year.
  • Engaging young people: Engage with future club leaders by engaging young people in the management and day-to-day operations of your club. Young people can bring new energy, creativity, enthusiasm and a fresh set of eyes to the management of your club. They are also typically more flexible and willing to adjust to change. If your club is wondering who will carry it in to the future, the reality is that it will probably be your young members. The Clearinghouse for Sport has great tips on engaging young people.  

More information

Your state or national body is a good first port of call for advice and assistance.

Disclaimer

As with any resource, this does not replace obtaining legal advice on each sport specific requirement and it is recommended you do so. 

The information provided in this resource is for your information only.  The authors and the NSW Office of Sport accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the information or your reliance upon it.