There is No Room for "Board Resume Padders" in Volunteer Organizations

Volunteering and “giving back to the community in which you live” remains one of my core beliefs. I believe that you need to become engaged with an organization that you believe in – one that you are passionate about – and one that you will contribute to. Too many times have I had the good fortune to sit on a Board only to find that some of my fellow members are there for all the wrong reasons. They have no intention of contributing at meetings. They miss meetings. They are what I like to call “Board Resume Padders”. Their only goal is to be able to mark down their position on their own resume. I have deemed these act to be called “resume padding” – a concept that sees this self-serving so-called volunteer undermine the work of the dedicated volunteer.

What is a Board Resume Padder?

Cartoon by David Feiss

The Board Resume Padder (BRP) is prevalent in many of today’s volunteer organizations and unfortunately they are allowed to exist in many cases. Many volunteer organizations are scrambling for help and due to poor board development practices they tend to take on a “warm body” just to fill a seat. Like a weasel, the cunning BRP seeks out these weaknesses and exploits them to the fullest. This cunning volunteer abuser is quick to second motions such as the approval of an agenda simply to ensure that their name is in the minutes. They are wily and devious in their facade – they disguise themselves as caring individuals and often fool board executive based on bravado and b.s.

How To Get Rid of a BRP

Responsible volunteer organizations and their dedicated Board members need to eradicate the presence of BRPs. Preventive measures such as conscientious and honest recruitment of prospective Board members is a practice that all volunteer organizations must implement. Done correctly the chances of a BRP infiltrating a Board are minimized to a great degree. Nevertheless, from time to time, a BRP is bound to get by even the strictest of defenses. Once a responsible Board recognizes the existence of a BRP in their presence they must take action. The Board, or more likely the Board Chair, can confront the individual in question and often they will offer up their own resignation based on lame excuses as “being too busy” or “this was not what I expected” – this matters not as the goal has been achieved – the eradication of a BRP.  Even if the BRP insists on staying there are often stipulations within organizational bylaws to make a motion to remove a non-productive member. I recently made a  motion on a provincial Board to remove a non-contributing member after she missed three consecutive meetings – this was our opportunity to act based on our bylaws.  It should be noted that your organization should seek the advice of legal counsel to ensure that the Board and its dedicated members are protected. Simply put, do the necessary due diligence in order to achieve your goal – the eradication of a BRP.

Board Development

A list of the productive elements that a Board member should be evaluated on is provided at Non Profit Expert.

  1. Attend no less than 75% of regular Board Meetings
  2. Chair and/or serve on a standing committee or special project.
  3. Make a personal and if possible business contribution to the organizational’s annual operating needs.
  4. Participate in or attend most of the program activities involving the operation.
  5. Arrange for and/or make an organizational presentation to a civic club, church group, business associate or group of friends.
  6. Make at least five person-to-person visits to individuals, foundations, businesses, or civic groups to request financial contribution to the organization.
  7. Invite and accompany a friend or associate to visit the facility.
  8. Recommend a potential candidate for Board membership to the Board Development Committee.
  9. Secure a volunteer, in-kind service or material goods for the organization.
  10. Review and consider your capacity and willingness to make a planned gift or bequest to the organization.
  11. Secure at least ten new donors for the organization.
  12. Actively assist with the special events of the organization.


Make Mistakes… and Learn.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

George Bernard Shaw

Old style management

One of my pet peeves in business is when the culture does not allow for creativity, ingenuity and innovation. It is my experience that many companies – mostly larger corporations – tend to “play it safe”. You’ve heard all of the sayings…from “nobody moves, nobody gets hurt” to “make sure you cover your a**”. This is an unfortunate result of old-style management and leadership where many believe that the status quo is better than actually being progressive. The questions is: what do you learn from the status quo?

Hockey Players Are Being Smothered.

I have coached minor hockey for over 21 years now and every year we have the same issues with the new players that join our hockey team. It is a sad reflection on the state of coaching in minor hockey but most coaches work hard to “not lose” and therefore hammer the kids on making mistakes. They build a culture of “playing it safe” and therefore they stymie the creative process – the very process required for young players to develop. In business it is called “paralysis by analysis” but in hockey it is called players being scared to do anything. Some don’t even want the puck for they are afraid to get yelled at if they do something wrong.

So every year it takes four to six weeks for the new player to understand that my coaches and I subscribe to a different philosophy. We will not come unglued and yell at them when they make a mistake on the ice. On the contrary, we normally ask if they know what they did wrong and if they say yes we do nothing and if they say no we explain it to them – right then and there – in a very controlled manner. Pretty soon they figure out that they will not be chastised for trying something new and then a wondrous thing begins to happen – the player actually becomes creative. Then the next player becomes creative and pretty soon you have a hockey team made up of young men and/or women that become a force that nobody wants to play. They work hard; they try new plays; they look out for one another; they have success and most importantly they have fun. What a concept this is. What if you could do this in a workplace environment?

Make Your Culture a Culture of Learning

I once heard that the many First Nations languages throughout North America do not have a word that stands for the word “mistake’. The closest word they have to this word is “learning”. Wow – so simple and so brilliant. Instead of focusing on the “mistake” why would we not focus on the “learning”.

In our business model we have built a culture that pushes our associates to learn – to make mistakes – to try new things – to look out for each other – to strive for new successes and to have FUN. We are like that minor hockey team who learns by being innovative.

Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.

Samuel Butler