For many PTA volunteers, serving on the PTA board is “just another volunteer job.” But in reality, your PTA board is running a non-profit organization, and with that comes responsibilities. Part of those responsibilities will be spelled out in your PTA bylaws and standing rules. Board Sourceprovides many free resources to help your board understand its role and lead your PTA effectively.
As Board Source notes, a lack of understanding what is and is not part of a board’s essential roles can lead to problems such as micromanagement, rogue decision-making, lack of engagement, and more. That certainly aligns with much of Illinois PTA’s experience with local PTAs and Councils having problems, which most often tend to stem from failure to follow the bylaws, ethical issues, or financial mismanagement. Ensuring that your board understands their role can help avoid those problems.
Part of the training that National PTA new requires of state PTA boards covers the fundamental duties of all non-profit boards, and these duties apply to local PTAs as well. Those duties are:
- Duty of Care:Each board member has a legal responsibility to participate actively in making decisions on behalf of the organization and to exercise his or her best judgment while doing so.
- Duty of Loyalty:Each board member must put the interests of the organization before their personal and professional interests when acting on behalf of the organization in a decision-making capacity. The organization’s needs come first.
- Duty of Obedience:Board members bear the legal responsibility of ensuring that the organization complies with the applicable federal, state, and local laws and adheres to its mission.
Beyond those three duties are some basic responsibilities. Board Source identified ten basic responsibilities, and while a few might not apply to a local PTA (who don’t, for example, have a chief executive), most of them can still guide your PTA board. Among them are:
- Advocate for your mission and purposes.
- Ensure effective planning.
- Monitor and strengthen programs and services.
- Ensure adequate financial resources.
- Protect assets and provide financial oversight.
- Build and sustain a competent board.
- Ensure legal and ethical integrity.
- Enhance the organization’s public standing.
For PTAs, your mission is clear: to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. Many of the other points are covered in our free PTA training courses, and Illinois PTA strongly recommends that every PTA have board members sign an ethical conduct agreement (available in both English and Spanish in your Illinois PTA online Leadership Resourcesin the President folder).
By focusing your PTA on its mission and advocating for it, by emphasizing that your PTA is in fact a non-profit organization with legal duties and responsibilities, and by ensuring that your PTA board is trained and understands its roles as leaders, your PTA can be even more successful in doing great things for the kids at your school, in your district, and across Illinois and the nation.