A Guiding Document for Your Advisory Council

In much the same way that a board of directors is guided by bylaws, advisory councils should have a guiding document too–a statement of organization and purpose that describes the role of the group and the responsibilities of its members.

Don’t confuse this guiding document with bylaws, however. In fact, the word “bylaws” should be avoided in the same way we discourage you from calling your council an advisory “board.” The board is the board and has a set of legal and fiscal responsibilities that your advisory council does not. So consider using the term “guiding document,” and let it be just that–a document that guides the advisory council but does not pretend to have the formality or the weight of bylaws.

Some elements to consider including in this document:

  • A description of why the advisory committee/council exists
  • A description of to whom the group reports (and, perhaps, how and when)
  • A description of the selection process and criteria used to recruit members
  • The duration of the committee and the length of terms of service of the members
  • Expectations of members
  • Titles and duties of “officers”
  • Number of meetings

One last thing…consider having your board of directors review and approve the guiding document before you start the process of recruiting members of your advisory council. Not only does it make sense to ensure that the board is fully supportive of the development of your advisory council, but it also gives the group credibility that can be helpful as you recruit.

For additional guidance regarding the formation and governance of your advisory council, contact us now, or visit the blog section of our Starboard website: www.starboardleadership.com. We are here to help!