Not For Profit Organisations

Q: What is the role of the Board Liaison?

A: Each participating board allocates a Board Liaison person who is responsible for being the point of contact for the Observer. The role of the Board Liaison is to be a point of contact for Observers and to answer any questions about serving as an Observer on the board. The Board Liaison should ensure board meeting details and reading materials are sent to the Observer and that the Observer understands expectations around his/her contribution/participation and the general culture of the board.

Q: Is the benefit greater for the Observer or for the NFP?

A: In the most effective Observerships, the benefits, although different for Observers and Organisations, are nevertheless mutual. Please refer to the FAQ outlining benefits for participating NFP organisations. Please refer to "What You Can Expect From the Program" in the "About the Program" section of the website to review the benefits of the Program to Observers.

Q: What is the role of the Observer and NFP Boards in managing the Observership throughout the year?

A: An open relationship between Observer and Board is essential to a successful Observership for both the organisation and the Observer. The Observership Program encourages direct communication between the Board and their Observer at all times and especially to clarify any issues or concerns that may arise. In the unlikely event of an issue arising which can’t be resolved, The Observership Program should be notified so that it can work with both parties to find a mutually satisfactory solution. The Observership Program undertakes a quarterly progress review with all NFPs and Observers to check that the relationship is functioning smoothly and both parties are benefiting from the experience. This takes the form of a scheduled phone call focused on the Observers’ contributions, and the organisations’ experience and provides an opportunity to identify and discuss any issues or concerns.

Q: What are NFP Boards looking for in an Observer?

A: Boards participate in the Observership Program for a number of reasons and there are many different qualities and experience they may look for in an Observer. Many boards are simply looking for a talented, committed Observer who brings age diversity and a fresh perspective. Some boards have a particular project they want help with and are looking for an Observer with a particular skill set to assist. Others may have a noticeable skill set gap they might like to fill. Other boards may be looking to enhance gender diversity on their board. Some boards may be looking to strengthen succession planning options and are looking for an Observer who may be appropriate to step into the shoes of a departing director.

Q: What are NFP Boards looking for in an Observer?

A: The key to a successful Observership experience is contribution. Boards participate in the Program to support the development of the next generation of leaders and to gain access to a younger (25-40) and in some cases, more relevant perspective around the board table. Many boards look for specific skills and experience from their Observers, so there are often opportunities to assist with special projects and to sit on subcommittees in addition to attending board meetings.

Q: What are the Responsibilities of a Participating NFP Organisation?

A: The NFP organisation invites its Observer onto the Board for a year and agrees to:

  • Distribute board papers to Observers;
  • Appoint a Board Liaison to serve as the primary point of contact for the Observer and The Observership Program. This liaison will ideally be a senior member of the Board and agrees to induct and introduce the Observer at the first board meeting and to encourage the Observer’s participation and involvement in Board meetings and to facilitate the Observer joining any relevant sub-committee and/or special project;
  • Provide feedback to The Observership Program upon request;
  • Provide The Observership Program with current logos for inclusion on all publicity and marketing platforms; and
  • Inform the Program of any issues in relation to the Observer that may arise over the course of the Program that have not been able to be resolved directly.

Program Conclusion

Q: What happens at the end of the 12-month Observership period?

A: Any further relationship between the Observer and the NFP is by mutual agreement. There is no obligation on either party to continue the relationship.

Program Location

Q: Where can I participate in the Program?

A: The Program operates in NSW and VIC. Although the majority of the participating boards are concentrated around central Sydney and Melbourne, some are further afield. If you are not able to travel to board meetings outside of these areas, you must alert the Program team at interview, or you may not be matched. All training sessions are held in the CBD.

Requirements of Observers

Q: What confidentiality obligations will I be required to meet during the Observership year?

A: All Observers sign a confidentiality agreement that provides detailed information about confidentiality obligations. This agreement is made available to NFPs on request. Some organisations may ask their Observers to sign another confidentiality agreement specific to their not-for-profit organisation.

Q: What are the time requirements for Observers while on the Program?

A: Board meetings can be monthly, quarterly or bimonthly, held during lunchtimes or after hours, often with annual or occasional strategy weekends. There are eight training sessions during the year, held in the CBD. Arrival for these training sessions is at 5.30pm for a 6.00pm start, finishing by 8.30pm. Participation in the Program requires attendance at all training sessions, board and any other relevant meetings to which you have committed.