Board of Directors Email Procedures and Guidelines
Email is a great time-saver and communication tool for a church board, making it easier to distribute materials, communicate information, arrange meetings, etc. Unfortunately, emails can be used indiscriminately, resulting in added work, or creating or exacerbating conflict. Below are suggested guidelines for UUCJ board email communications.
Substantive issues or disagreements are best handled
- Board members should not forward emails received from other board members to anyone without being directed to do so or without the sender’s permission. Nor should any person be blind-copied on any email communications either within the organization or to persons outside the organization. By the same token, recipients should not be added to a board email distribution list without the permission of the original sender or without notifying all original recipients. Email messages should be regarded as the property of the sender.
- Include a clear, direct subject line, to help recipients understand why you are sending the email. It is also extremely helpful to indicate, in the subject line, the purpose of the email. Typically emails are either for the information of board members, soliciting feedback, or for a decision that has to be made between meetings.
A message can be headed “<subject> – FYI”, <subject>-Feedback Needed, or <subject> -Decision Required.
An email labeled FYI typically would not require a response, while the other two are clearly asking for action and response on the part of the recipients.
- Email communication between board members on substantive matters (key issues or topics of relevance to UUCJ) should go to all board members, unless it has been decided otherwise, related to specific topics. Emails to see when people are available to meet, for example, are not considered to be substantive.
- Individual board members should not email other individual board members about an organizational issue unless they email them all. The board agrees that “in the interest of openness, all e-mail communications will be with the whole board.”
- Be cautious with humor. Something perceived as funny when spoken may come across very differently when written.
- Add the email address last, to avoid accidentally sending an email before you have finished writing, or inadvertently sending to the wrong person.
- Nothing is confidential—so write accordingly. Every electronic message leaves a trail, so it is best to assume that others will see what you write.