An organization's executive board of directors is tasked with specific governing duties for the organization. Members of the board – including a member at large – are elected. Unlike other executive board leadership such as a president or treasurer, a member at large doesn't have a specific role. A member at large serves as a liaison to the general membership. Duties change as defined in organization bylaws or as needed to fulfill board requirements and address overall organizational goals.
Members at large serve as a liaison between the board of directors and the rest of the organization. He has no specific duties, and the role may change according to need.
To properly represent the membership, it is imperative that a member at large attends all board meetings. Attendance gives the member an understanding of the board's direction and stance on issues. Taking information back to the membership in a timely fashion is imperative. It means the membership is able to contribute to the decision-making process before the board votes and finalizes things.
The member at large primarily serves as a liaison between the membership and the board of directors. For example, a parent-teacher association can have an at-large teacher assigned to review information and bring it back to the teacher segment of the organization. In this scenario, parents often overwhelm the decision-making process while teachers are busy in the classroom. The member at large serves to get input, provide feedback, and become a spokesperson for the teacher segment of the membership.
As new unassigned board tasks arise, the board of director's president can assign duties to the member at large. This might include overseeing task forces, external focus groups or collaborations with other organizations. A member at large may also sit on certain committees to ensure the board's directives and committee's desires align. For example, a member at large can sit on the finance committee to ensure appropriations follow budget votes by the board of directors.
A member at large is part of the executive board of directors, while a committee chair is not. The member at large works with committee chairs to review status and progress. The member at large brings committee reports back to the executive board for oversight. Instances occur where a member at large may oversee and run a committee for a short period of time if a vacancy occurs.
Since committee chairs are often newer to the organization and its needs, the member at large also serves to mentor chairs. Board members, even undesignated ones such as members at large, have experience in the operations and goals of the committees. Some organizations require a minimum number of years of participation in the organization prior to board eligibility. This experience is valuable to get new committee chairs up to speed without sacrificing goal achievement.