Joining a board can be a rewarding experience, working to improve your local community, whilst helping to broaden your skills and networks.
You don’t need a wealth of experience in housing to become a board member, just an interest in the sector and community issues.
Click on the questions below to help you find out more...
What does it mean to be a Board member?
Board members of housing associations have ultimate responsibility for directing the activity of their particular association ensuring it is well managed and delivering the outcomes for which it has been established. Board members are equally responsible, in law, for the actions and decisions of the Board; they are equally collectively responsible and accountable for ensuring the association is performing well, remains solvent and complies with all its obligations.
Board members are expected to:
- take a strategic view
- safeguard the housing executive’s values and mission
- ensure the interest and needs of the association’s tenants are considered in all matters
- delegate to Committees and staff
- approve and monitor the housing association’s strategy, corporate plan and budgets
- ensure risks are identified and managed
- hold management to account for their performance – ensuring reviews where necessary
- appoint, support and, if necessary, dismiss the Chief Executive
What if I have little or no experience of being on a Board?
Most associations have an induction and training process. You could also request a ‘mentor’ when you first start – a more experienced Board Member who you can talk to if you have questions. You will work as part of a team of people with knowledge in different areas, so don’t feel that you have to be an ‘expert’ in every area. You’ll find staff members within each association are skilled in key areas, e.g. finance, strategy, policy. As a Board Member your job will be to think about staff members’ proposals and offer your opinion and guidance as part of a team.
What about the cost of travelling to meetings?
Normally, as a Board Member, you will be able to claim ‘out of pocket expenses’ such as travel costs. Most associations also pay child care costs or respite care costs if you care for someone with specific needs.
What time commitment is necessary?
Whilst it is hard to have a one timetable fit all associations a rough guide is:
- Committee meetings if you’re involved in a subcommittee
- Six Board meetings and Annual General Meeting
- Attend a meeting on internal audit reports
- Other events e.g. Scheme visits/openings, Seminars, NIFHA Conference, Training
Every Few Years
- DfC monitoring
- NI Audit Office testing
What are the benefits for me?
Becoming a Board Member gives you the satisfaction of knowing you are contributing positively to society. It will also provide you with an alternative perspective in terms of the running of associations, which is brilliant for your personal and professional development.
You’ll be able to apply your existing skills, learn new ones, broaden your experience, develop contacts and make new friends all whilst being part of an international Movement.
Where can I get further information on being on a Board?
The DIY Committee Guide website is a useful site that can help you find out more about board and committee membership. It provides a range of information and materials on the Code of Good Governance for the Voluntary and Community Sector which you would be expected to adhere to.
With regards housing associations, the Department for Social Development has useful information in the Housing Association Guide on being part of an association’s board.
How do I register my interest?
If you would like to become a Voluntary Board Member you can register your interest through NIFHA. We have two options:
You can complete your application online. If you use the online option you cannot save the form and come back to it so we encourage you to be prepared beforehand. You can download a Word Document version here to help you prepare your answers.
Once submitted, you will receive a copy of your completed application form to the email address you provided.
You can download a Word Document version here, fill it in and email it back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joining NIFHA’s register is not the only way to become a housing association board member. You can apply for a share and, if approved, stand for election the housing association’s Annual General Meeting. Associations may also co-opt a certain number of people (shareholders or non-shareholders) to their Boards as well. Contact individual housing associations directly for further information.
If you are interested in becoming a shareholder in Co-Ownership please click Co-Ownership to visit their website for more information.