Association Executive David Patt recently blogged about an association that did not fill a vice president position each year because the bylaws required the position to plan the programs each year. Volunteers who would agree to be an officer did not want to agree to that additional task. He believed the bylaws needed to change. I agree. Bylaws should not give assignments other than authority and what the position by title would imply. Why would a vice president need to be “required” to plan programs each year?
There are associations that believe the best way to have a useful president elect/vice president or first vice president is to require them to do tasks. Why? One thought is that it familiarizes them with another aspect of the Board; another thought is that the “learning” year needs to have more to do. Some Nominating Committees either don’t know or never mention the “required” additional tasks that would not have been anticipated by an incoming officer candidate, so that person can be entirely surprised to find they have something they must do when moving into the position.
Many volunteers may absolutely dislike certain tasks – including raising sponsor funds or having to plan programs; and other volunteers genuinely enjoy those activities or find it’s where they can be really helpful. Requiring a reluctant officer to do a task that many others could easily do instead may be a bad move. It could make some volunteers not want to be an officer because they don’t want to do tasks that aren’t at all connected with the officer role; or it could doom the task to failure because someone who doesn’t want to do it or lacks the skills/interest to do it gets that assignment. If they do poorly at that task, will it be considered a sign of their potential talent as president?
If non-officer tasks are in your bylaws as position requirements, remove them. Find the right volunteer for the right association volunteer position task instead.
Separately, the same is true for organizations that require a member to be the elected Treasurer before moving into the vice president or president positions. Treasurer is a unique role that should require very specific financial expertise; and not be a “learning” position for those who may not have any financial background or interest. Associations (and especially the CEO) should not want someone unqualified as Treasurer. There may be many qualified people who would be interested in being Treasurer as long as they never need to move into the other officer positions. Let them do that.