Developing a Board
A board of directors serves a variety of roles in a network or coalition, including providing
structured oversight to accomplish the goals of the group as a whole and ensuring the work is being
done in the intended spirit. The board is legally responsible for the actions of the network or
coalition (see Liability Issues for more information
on this topic). Additionally, the board gives visibility and lends credibility to the network, with board
members representing the network or coalition in their professional circles and to the community at
The size and makeup of a board of directors depends on the size and scope of the network; in general,
the larger the network and more complex the goals and activities, the larger the board. Members are
often recruited to sit on the board of directors because of their expertise and commitment to the
network's mission. Tapping into existing relationships is a good place to start seeking board
members, as much of the trust-building work on the front end will already be in place. Having diverse
perspectives can be helpful in fine-tuning and fleshing out complex issues.
If the network is wanting to address a specific problem or concern, it is common to develop
or task forces. Board members may either volunteer or be assigned to sit on subcommittees or task
forces, and if the issue in question exceeds the expertise of the board members, outside individuals with
proficiency in the issue may be invited to the table. These subcommittees and task forces meet separately
from the rest of the board, focusing their energy on a particular topic, and recommend actions to take on
the identified issue. They report back to the full board.
Training board members is something that is often overlooked, as it may be assumed they are familiar
with the responsibilities involved. Rural Health Innovations developed a detailed outline for how to
conduct an orientation and other resources, which can be found in the Network
Board Development Guide.
Resources to Learn More
an Ongoing Board of Directors
Provides an overview of the role of a coalition's board of directors and gives tips for how to develop a
Organization(s): Community Tool Box
Board Development: Equipping Leaders for Effectiveness
This website includes a one-hour webinar that walks through The Network Board Development Guide
developed by RHI and NCHN to assist rural health networks in establishing, maintaining, and improving
board governance. The Network Board Development Guide is also available on the website.
Organization(s): Rural Health Innovations (RHI) and National Council of Health Networks