Volunteer for the Board of Directors
OHS Board of Directors: Is it for me?
What is the Board of Directors?
The Board of Directors is the governance body of OHS. On behalf of the community, and representing the members of OHS, the Board provides the strategic direction, resources, and high-level oversight for the organization to be successful in achieving its mission and goals.
Who serves on the OHS Board?
Board members come from all walks of life. They share a commitment to OHS and the animals in our care and have skills that are required by the Board. Ideally but not exclusively, candidates are sought with Board and/or volunteer experience at charitable/not-for-profit organizations, and with expertise in the following areas: governance; management/strategic planning; evaluation/performance management; fundraising; government relations; finance/accounting; privacy/security, communications, information technology, legal or regulatory and/or human resources/recruitment & retention.
Other characteristics include:
- Age: By law, Board members must be at least 18 years of age.
- Education: Formal education is not a requirement for all Board positions, though it is desirable to have certain professionals on the Board to ensure an appropriate mix of perspectives. Many candidates may possess a combination of work and personal experience that provides them with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the financial, administrative, ethical and policy issues that may be discussed at the Board.
- Knowledge/Awareness: Candidates should possess an interest in animal welfare and should understand the need to demonstrate a public image that is in keeping with the philosophies and goals of OHS.
- Personal Suitability: It is desirable to have Board members who are willing and have confidence to challenge proposed policies, activities, etc., of the organization. The ability to challenge must be tempered with recognition of the need to work in a cooperative and collegial manner and demonstrate a style that values consensus and unity.
- Financial Commitment: All Board members are expected to make a significant personal financial commitment to OHS.
What is expected of me as a Board member?
The Board of Directors usually meets once per month in the evening, for about two hours, at the OHS. Reports, background materials, and other documentation are sent to Board members several days before the meeting, and Board members are expected to have read the materials and have their questions and comments prepared.
The main responsibilities of the OHS Board are to:
- Determine mission and purpose. It is the Board’s responsibility to create and review a statement of mission and purpose that articulates the organization’s goals, means, and primary constituents served.
- Select the Executive Director (ED). The Board must reach consensus on the ED’s responsibilities and undertake a careful search to find the most qualified individual for the position. The Board will ensure that there is a succession plan in place.
- Support and evaluate the ED. The Board should ensure that the ED has the support he/she needs to further the goals of the organization.
- Ensure effective strategic planning. The Board must actively participate in an overall strategic planning process and assist in implementing and monitoring the plan’s goals.
- Monitor and strengthen programs and services. The Board’s responsibility is to determine which programs are consistent with OHS’s mission and monitor their effectiveness.
- Ensure adequate financial resources. One of the Board’s foremost responsibilities is to secure adequate resources for the OHS to fulfill its mission.
- Protect assets and provide proper financial oversight. The Board must assist in developing the annual budget and ensuring that proper financial controls are in place.
- Build a competent Board. The Board has a responsibility to articulate prerequisites for candidates, orient new members, and periodically and comprehensively evaluate their own performance.
- Ensure legal and ethical integrity. The Board is ultimately responsible for adherence to legal standards and ethical norms.
- Enhance the OHS’s public standing. The Board should clearly articulate the OHS’s mission, accomplishments, and goals to the public and garner support from the community.
- Manage risk. The board must assess and address risk to the organization and ensure timely and proper corresponding responses.
Since discussions may involve confidential or sensitive issues, Board members are asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement and an agreement to adhere to the OHS Ethics Policy.
Board members are expected to attend most, if not all, major OHS events.
In addition to the monthly meeting and periodic events, Board members are expected to serve on at least one committee that meets once a month and when there, are usually assigned specific tasks to be completed individually or working in collaboration with other committee members.
What are the Board committees?
Much of the up-front, hands-on work that occurs prior to any issue coming to the Board, is done through the work of Board committees. The committees take the time to research issues, identify and evaluate options, and make recommendations. The Board depends on committees to present succinct information and recommendations upon which it can base decisions at its monthly meetings.
The bylaws of OHS provide for four standing committees: the Executive Committee, the Finance and Audit Committee, the Nominating Committee and the Governance Committee
The Executive Committee is comprised of the officers of OHS: the Chair, 1st and 2nd Vice-Chairs, Treasurer, Secretary and a member-at-large from the Board, in addition to the ED. Its duties and responsibilities are set out in the bylaws, but essentially this committee exercises the powers of the Board, as needed, in between meetings. The Executive Committee is open to Board members elected to executive positions only.
The Finance and Audit Committee also has duties that are set out in the bylaws. In addition to its regular duties, however, the Finance Committee may also take on other projects such as establishing policies and procedures about important financial matters.
The Nominating Committee recruits and screens potential new Board members. Under the bylaws, the Nominating Committee is composed of at least three Board members and may also include Advisors from outside the Board. As Board vacancies occur, the Board’s Nominating Committee will advertise for applicants.
The Governance Committee’s duties are set out in the bylaws. The Governance Committee develops sound governance policies, procedures and techniques in order to pursue the development of the governance of OHS, in accordance with best governance practices and legal requirements.
The Board is authorized under the bylaws to establish other ad hoc committees depending on its priorities for OHS.
In addition, if you are not already a member of OHS, a candidate must become a member of the Ottawa Humane Society within thirty (30) days of becoming a director.
HOW DO I BECOME AN OHS BOARD MEMBER?
What's in it for me?
There are many rewards by serving on the Board of Directors:
- Sharing with a team in the accomplishment of doing something important for the OHS and Ottawa’s animals;
- Using your skills in new ways, addressing very interesting issues;
- Learning more about the Ottawa Humane Society and how it operates;
- Meeting people who share your interests;
- Developing new skills;
- Developing your volunteer knowledge and skills – in the future, you may want to help other charities, too;
- Being associated with an organization that has been helping your community since 1888.
If you would like more information about what is entailed in being a member of the Board, please contact:
Ottawa Humane Society
613-725-3166, ext. 232
You can also contact the OHS manager of volunteers to learn more about other volunteer opportunities:
Manager of Volunteers
Ottawa Humane Society
613-725-3166 ext. 231