Advisory Board: Best Practices and Responsibilities

Advisory Board Members' Roles and Responsibilities

Advisory Board Member Job Descriptions

Download the PDF of the job description here.

Criteria for Advisory Board Members

Your ideal Affiliate Advisory Board should be made up of skillful, diverse, and committed volunteers. An Advisory Board member is not only guiding the affiliate’s local activities and fundraising, but also acting as a spokesperson in your community. Here are some criteria when considering adding Advisory Board Members.

  • An ability to speak enthusiastically about the Affiliate in the community.

  • Professional expertise or local knowledge.

  • A passion for supporting and further developing the local community.

  • An ability to commit appropriate time for Affiliate activities.

  • A willingness to attend regularly scheduled meetings.

  • An ability to serve at least one term, with a maximum of two consecutive terms.

  • A willingness to financially support the operations of the Affiliate at a level that is personally appropriate.

  • Willingness to identify prospective donors and to talk with them about supporting the community.

Meeting Guidelines

The Affiliate Advisory Board should meet regularly, with a minimum of four and a suggested minimum of six, bi-monthly meetings per year. As a committee of the Community Foundation, a yearly roster and election of officers will be submitted to the Community Foundation for approval at the annual Community Foundation meeting in January.

During meetings, members should determine goals and priorities for Affiliate funds, conduct fund development, recommend local grant making opportunities and prepare an annual budget. .

The Advisory Board needs a quorum present during meetings when a vote is taken. A quorum is more than 50 percent of Affiliate Advisory Board members.

Please forward all meeting minutes to the Community Foundation, preferably no later than two weeks after your meeting.

Sample Agenda
Sample Minutes

Recommended Number of Advisory Board Members

An Affiliate Advisory Board that is too large may have trouble holding meetings when everyone can attend. Additionally, members can feel "lost in the crowd," which leads to less productivity. On the other hand, too few members can result in a lack of diversity and community knowledge. You also risk overextending volunteers. The Community Foundation recommends at least seven advisory board members and no more than fifteen. You may want to consider having an odd number to break any tied votes.

Keeping the Community Foundation Informed

An Affiliate Advisory Board is a volunteer committee of the Community Foundation.  Like any organization, the Community Foundation needs to know basic information about their committee members. The Community Foundation requires an annual update of Affiliate Advisory Board members. A yearly roster and election of officers will be submitted to the Community Foundation for approval at the Community Foundation January annual meeting. The Community Foundation should be notified, at any time during the year, when an Advisory Board member resigns or when an election occurs. Inaccurate contact information can lead to confidentiality breaches and incorrect individuals receiving reporting documents and/or fund and financially-related material. Please make sure that the Community Foundation has the most up-to-date information on committee members, including a main point of contact. Here is a spreadsheet you can use to capture pertinent information.

All Affiliate Advisory Board members need to complete the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form. This is a requirement for all Community Foundation volunteers and staff. You can learn more about it here.

Please send all meeting minutes to your Community Foundation contact no more than two weeks after your meeting. The Community Foundation needs to review all meeting minutes for National Standards compliance, but also to know what you are working on as a committee of the Community Foundation. We may be able to help you with a problem you are facing, or have a great idea you could implement with existing resources. Minutes are also required for grantmaking. See the grantmaking requirements section for more information. 

Communicate any activities the affiliate is planning or considering with Community Foundation staff. Some may require efforts to comply with state and federal laws. Please see the Donor and Affiliate Initiated Fundraising policy before holding any events or fundraisers. The Community Foundation may decline funds raised through unauthorized activities and grants, so please connect with us early in your planning process. Learn more about events and fundraising here.

Recommended Length of Term

There are most definitely a large number of motivated, philanthropic people in your community. Term limits can help your Affiliate include more of these people on your Affiliate Advisory Board. Consistency is a benefit to limiting committee turnover, but is outweighed by the benefits of term limits. New members bring fresh insight, new skill sets, additional connections to prospects, and grow the base of advisory board alumni. Former Advisory Board members can act as ambassadors in your community. Consider establishing a good rotation schedule for when term limits expire. By doing so, you can accomplish a balance of consistency and fresh insights.

Your Affiliate can set term lengths of up to three years for officers and directors, with a maximum of two sequential terms and a minimum one year hiatus before allowing a third or future terms. Please let the Community Foundation know how many years constitute a term.

Board Matrix Template

Download the PDF of the Board Matrix Template

Recruitment Process

Download the PDF of best practices for Recruiting Advisory Board Members

Important Policies

Because a community foundation is by nature a public organization, volunteers and staff are expected to have many contacts - with donors, community leaders, government officials, grant applicants, grantees, and a broad range of citizens involved in and knowledgeable about community issues.

Every Advisory Board member needs to be familiar with the Conflict of Interest Policy, Privacy and Confidentiality Policy, Code of Ethics and Conduct, and the Social Media Policy.  These policies are connected to our National Standards accreditation and also the trust and transparency within the community. 

The Conflict of Interest Policy provides guidelines for identifying  a conflict with an employee or volunteer and what procedures to follow.  Not all conflicts require action beyond disclosure and review.  Others conflicts may require someone leaving the room during a vote. Download the Conflict of Interest Policy here.

We value the privacy of our donors, prospective donors, grantees and vendors. Your volunteer position may give you access to information that must remain private.  The rule of thumb is that any business regarding the Quad Cities Community Foundation or the Affiliate is confidential. Download the Privacy Policy here.

The trust of a community is important to any organization, and even more so for community foundations. Donors need to have confidence that we will take care of their donations, and often, their legacy.  Our staff and volunteers need to maintain and convey a high level of professional conduct. Download the Conduct Policy here.

The Disclosure Statement is where you agree to adhere to the above policies and report any possible conflicts. This form is required for all staff and volunteers annually. Download the Disclosure Form here.

The Social Media Policy helps guide us in a world where there are countless ways to share information with people.  It can be hard to distinguish where your personal boundaries separate from your work and volunteer life. Download the Social Media Policy here.