- There is no need to be afraid to ask for additional information if you are not sure that you have everything you need to make a decision. People on Boards and Committees do it all the time.
- In fact, it is very important that you understand the decision you’re making and any information you are given to help you make that decision.
- It is also OK for Committees and Boards to seek external expertise or help on topics the Board doesn’t feel they have enough information on to make an informed decision.
There are times when the Board or Committee does not have the required skills or information to decide on a particular matter, such as a complex financial or legal matter. When this happens, The Board or Committee may need to seek help or external advice to make sure you each fulfill your duty to make decisions with reasonable care, skill and diligence. Better information means better decisions.
Sometimes you may feel the pressure to make ‘perfect’ decisions, which is impossible. While boards also have differences in knowledge, skills, experience, and it is important that everyone feels comfortable with the information presented. Remember that not every decision is going to be the’ right’ decision. But what you can control is the process and information you use to make a ‘reasonable’ decision in the best interest of the organisation.
And while the new information you receive might be more specialist or technical, you can still rely on the basic principals of being an effective Board member to help you make sense of it. These include: whether the decision aligns with the organisation’s principles and policies; that there are no individuals that have a financial interest in the decision; that funding is available; and the necessary advice has been sought if needed.
Ask questions or for an explanation about what the technical information being presented to you means
Want more? ... check out these resources
Checklist – Institute of Community Directors – 2 minutes read each
The Institute of Community Directors has a whole range of great tip sheets on ‘ten questions every board director needs to ask about” on a number of issues such as cybersecurity; funding; child safety; diversity and the like.
Booklet – ourcommunity.com – 80 pages
At 80 pages, this booklet is long but has very good advice based around the 25 most important questions you should ask about the finances. This is a resource you can keep coming back to as you learn more and become more skilled as a Board member.
Article – Madwicks Lawyers – 2 minute read
This short article has an example of acting with reasonable care, skill and diligence when making decisions on more complex issues. Look out for the helpful five-point list of what makes up a “reasonable” decision.
Online toolkit - QCOSS - Over 10 minute browse
QCOSS' wonderful Community Door resource library has lots of sector-specific advice in the "Service Area" section of their toolkit. Hover over the Service area tab at the top of the Community Door website and you'll see all the sub-sectors they cover. This link will take you to the first topic covered - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services.