This blog would not be possible without the helpful guidance from REN members Kari Rosbeck (TS Alliance), Jo Anne Nakagawa (TS Alliance), and Brandy Fureman (Epilepsy Foundation).
What is an Advisory Board and Why is it Important?
An advisory board is a group of people, usually volunteers, that give advice and support a non-profits mission. Including professionals such as researchers or doctors makes it a “Professional Advisory Board,” which is very helpful for medical based non-profits. The board can be compromised by however many people each respective organization feels is necessary, and the bylaws or Charter can be as specific about the roles or more vague. (Stick around until the end to see some awesome examples!)
In a complex world it is always helpful to have someone that can help give insight on current events and trends in a respective field. This unique perspective and knowledge prove especially useful in the constantly evolving field of medicine and research revolving around rare diseases and disorders. Also, having someone who is not necessarily part of the day-to-day operations allows for a fresh perspective and novel ideas when it comes to problems or projects.
Who Should be a Part of Your Professional Advisory Board?
Sometimes it is hard to attract doctors and medical researchers, so a good start would be other rare epilepsy organization leaders. These leaders are bound to offer insight on how to grow your organization and accomplish your organization's goals, especially if it is a newer organization. Asking other organizations for advice on how to meet doctors and researchers is always a good plan too. However, a great time to network and appeal to possible advisory board members is at conferences where there are plenty of people willing to help.
What Should be Included in the Bylaws and Guidelines?
For a shorter yet thorough document make sure to list clear and precise statements of what is expected of the board, such as preparing newly learned medical information and giving it to the organization. It is good to list the overall goal or mission of the professional advisory board and how long the board members will serve.
Your organization can also follow a different template and have multiple sections, outlining specific parts of the professional advisory boards in great detail. Some of the sections could be:
Membership: This can detail how members are elected, the ranks of the members, and how long the members on the professional advisory board serve.
Officers: This section again outlines the duties, election process, but also explains the role of each type of officer.
Committees: For larger advisory boards committees may be needed to fulfill the goals of the board and this is an excellent spot to lay the groundwork for how these will function.
Meetings: A great section to share to the members of the board how often they will be meeting and the expectations for attendance of each meeting.
Great Examples Found Here!
Consolidated and Edited by Sebastian Druehl, Class of ‘21, Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda Maryland.