Even if you’ve never written a board report before, it’s easy enough to learn how to do it. If you need some assistance in writing a report, ask for a copy of a report that was submitted in the past and use it as a template. You don’t have to write the report alone. Ask the committee members for help or ask for a mentor that has written a report in the past to help you with it. Here’s what you need to know to write a professional report to the board.
Is There a Purpose in Writing Board Reports?
There is a reason for everything that the board does, including writing, reading and storing board and committee reports. The committees take on work that the board cannot do during a regular board meeting. It’s important for committee members to communicate their work to the other board members.
Committees are usually formed by selecting board members, and sometimes other members, that have the talents needed to fulfil the objective of the committee. Committees can spread their work over weeks or months so that they can fully research their objectives and make comprehensive recommendations to the full board. For the most part, committee reports are intended to be a communication tool. The board can decide how often the committee submits a report, which can be monthly, yearly or some other timeframe.
What Kinds of Committees Write Reports?
There are usually three standing committees:
- Executive committee
- Finance committee
- Board development committee
There may also be other standing committees or ad hoc committees. Standing committees meet on a regular basis. Ad hoc committees meet with the goal of having an objective and reporting it to the board.
What Kind of Information Do Committees Report to the Board?
Standing committees submit reports at every board meeting. It’s important for boards to hear a summary from the Executive Director.
The executive committee generally acts as a steering committee to guide the work that the board discusses at a board meeting.
One of the most important documents that the board members read is the financial report. Board members should learn how to read the financial reports. More importantly, they should give input about the budget and ask questions about expenditures and trends.
The Board Development Committee is responsible for recruiting new board members and bringing a slate of candidates to the board at election time. They also look for ways to train and mentor current board members. Some boards may give this committee responsibility for fundraising. A Board Development committee report communicates their work to the other board members.
The Purpose of Board Reports
Board committees write formal reports to the board so that they have an opportunity to learn about the work that the committee has been doing. Committee reports become part of the minutes and should be kept for historical and recording value. Committee reports could also be called upon at any time if a legal issue arises, which makes it ultra-important for committees to document their findings in writing. Take a look at these reasons that committees write reports to the board.
Bring the Board Up to Speed
Committee reports bring the board up to speed on the work that the committee has been doing since the last report. It gives the board the chance to give input and ask questions. All board members have responsibilities to be active participants even when they are not participating on a board.
Give Board Members a Sense of Pride and Enthusiasm
When committee reports are read, it creates a spirit of accomplishment and enthusiasm among the board members. Committee reports can be a useful tool for helping to keep a board united.
To Remind Board Members of the Commitments They Made
If a board created a committee and gave them an objective, they have to recognise the importance of the work that the committee is doing.
To Spark Discussions and Questions from the Board
Even though the remaining board members are not participating in the committee, they need to show an active and vested interest in the work the committee performs. Committee reports should form the basis for a discussion. Committee members should be prepared to answer questions and take the board’s concerns back to the committee.
To Give the Board Members Information for Marketing Purposes
The board should be aware of all of the activities of the committees. Having lots of information to share with their personal or professional networks will spark enthusiasm for the organisation and its goals.
What Goes Into a Report for the Board of Directors?
Each report will be as unique as the committee that prepares it. Following is a list of elements that could be used as a template for a report to the board.
- Name of committee
- Name of committee chair
- Names of committee members
- The objective of the committee
- Summary of recent accomplishments and current activities
- List of activities in progress and upcoming events
- Financial impact
- Dissenting opinions
- Recommendations to the executive director or CEO
- Recommendations to the Board of Directors
Here are some sample templates for reports to the board:
Concluding Thoughts About Writing Board Reports
When writing board reports, remember that the purpose is to communicate committee updates to the board. When committee members offer reports with enthusiasm, the rest of the board will receive the information with enthusiasm. Learning about progress that the organisation is making keeps the entire board on track towards their goals.