Committees & Board Member Responsibilities
The Board of Directors is charged with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the “I Have A Dream” Affiliate, and directors have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the Affiliate. The Board of Directors is also responsible for financial oversight, long-range strategic planning, policy making, fundraising, and resource development. Among IHDF boards, a few of these specific duties usually take precedence. The members of the Board of Directors are the Affiliate’s key networking contacts, opening doors to helpful sources of funding, services, and other support within the community. Boards of Directors can help IHDF deliver on one of its primary promises: creating long-term relationships between Dreamers and trusted adults in the community who can help build and expand their professional and social networks.
IHDF boards may also be responsible, in cooperation with the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation, for promoting expansion of the program in their city or locale. In many cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Dallas, and others, the Board of Directors sets goals for establishing new classes, kicks off expansion committees, and conducts fundraising to support new Affiliates.
The nature of a board’s work changes over the course of a program. Founding boards organizing a new Affiliate in their city may be required to use a more hands-on approach than boards directing the management of a well-established organization.
The most effective boards include members with a wide variety of skills and perspectives. IHDF Alumni, family members, and those with expertise in education, financial management and accounting, law, fundraising, public relations, and social services can be assets on “I Have A Dream” Boards.
Board members are generally expected to be financial supporters of the organization in some capacity. This is not a legal requirement, but unanimous financial support among board members demonstrates a deep commitment and instills confidence in outside donors. Among all Affiliates, giving expectations should be stated clearly to all new members being recruited. While financial support at some level from all board members is important, board members should not be chosen for their financial capacity but rather a passion for and commitment to the work of “I Have A Dream.” Many Affiliates find that members who are generous with their time, insight, connections, and skills offer indispensable assistance to the organization that far outweighs the importance of their financial support.
Executive Committees are responsible for oversight and decision making between board meetings. Often, the Executive Committee is compromised of the officers of the Board of Directors. In some cases, particularly where there is a large Board of Directors or one that meets infrequently, the Executive Committee conducts most of the governing functions of the full board.
The Development Committee is responsible for fundraising and resource development.
The Program Committee reviews long-term program planning and services to meet Dreamer needs. Committee members also work with Affiliate leadership to identify community resources that may support programs and troubleshoot, organize, and implement special activities such as recommitment ceremonies, holiday celebrations, or graduation exercises.
The Volunteer Committee assists Affiliate leadership in recruiting, screening, training, and honoring volunteers.
Public Relations Committees assist with the development of Affiliate promotional materials, establish media relationships, publicize Affiliate events, and create opportunities for publicity in the community, such as speaking engagements and interviews.
Nominating Committees assess the board’s membership needs in terms of skills, diversity, and community connections. Members help identify, recruit, and recommend individuals for board membership and train/onboard new members.
Advisory committees are a way to supplement the governing function of a Board of Directors without creating an unwieldy decision making body. Members of an Advisory Committee typically do not have substantive legal responsibilities and do not vote on the day-to-day operations of the program. Some IHDF Affiliates form Advisory Committees as a means to solicit programmatic expertise and provide additional community representation. Some establish Advisory Committees for specialized functions like planning fundraising events.
Programs may rely heavily on their Advisory Committees, which meet frequently and provide continuous support and guidance. Or, the committee may be available on an as-needed basis for guidance, technical assistance, and fundraising help. Still others form committees composed of high-profile community leaders who lend prestige to the program.
Parent/Family Councils can also act as an advisory committee in many ways. Councils may plan activities and workshops for Dreamer families or help organize special events like holiday celebrations or year-end picnics. They may produce a family newsletter or contribute to the Affiliate’s newsletter. Parent and Family Councils are important voices in decisions about programming and support needs.