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Becoming a Charity Board Member: What You Should Know

Learn what your duties will be and what to look out for when thinking of joining a charity board to ensure it's a good fit.

2,781 enrolled on this course

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  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    1 hour
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Digital upgrade


Find out how to evaluate a charity before you commit to being a board member

Joining a charity board can be a fantastic way to channel your specific skills and connections into a worthy cause. Before you commit, it’s helpful to do a little research to check out what’s involved and if the charity is a good fit for you.

This two-week course is presented by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and will help you understand your duties as a board member and evaluate whether a registered charity is a good fit for you.

Unpack the obligations and responsibilities of a charity board

On this course, you’ll get an introduction to the roles and responsibilities of an Australian charity including what a board must do. You’ll also get clear insights into the significance of an organisation’s reputation and the importance of managing conflicts of interest.

Learn how to investigate charities to see if they’re the right fit for you

Once you understand how a board’s roles and responsibilities work, and the impact that reputation has in the viability of of a charity, you’re ready to investigate these issues in real-life registered charities.

You’ll see how to evaluate key indicators that show you how a charity is performing.

Get expert advice from the Australian charity regulator

The Australian Charities and Not-for Profits Commission (ACNC) has years of experience in the charity sector, understands current laws, and provides guidance to registered charities on meeting their legal obligations. With all its insights, this course by the ACNC will give you invaluable guidance on what to look at before committing to join a charity board.


  • Week 1

    Find out about the charity

    • Welcome and introduction to researching a charity

      Meet the educators, find out how you will be assessed, learn what a governing body is and discover the wealth of information you can collect about a charity before you speak with them.

    • Get to know the charity's rules

      All registered charities have a governing document which is available to download via the ACNC Charity Register. In this section, you will access the charity's governing document and look up its rules and how it operates.

    • Check the charity's financial health

      The financial statements of registered charities are available to download via the ACNC Charity Register. In this section, you will look up the charity's financial information to see if it is up-to-date.

  • Week 2

    Find out about the role and if it suits you

    • Check if you have a conflict of interest

      Learn what a conflict of interest is, check if you have one and take steps to manage conflicts of interest properly.

    • Reputation matters

      Learn why reputation is crucial to a charity's success and what is expected of you as a board member to keep the charity held in high esteem.

    • Handling complaints properly

      Handling complaints well can improve the charity's operations and reputation. But handling complaints poorly can devastate the charity, the stakeholders and even the whole sector. Learn how to approach complaints properly.

    • Deciding whether to join the charity's board

      To join or not to join? It is your decision. This section covers questions to ask the charity and includes some useful downloadable resources to prompt your discussions.

    • Next steps

      Want to continue learning but not sure where to turn? Want to get a Certificate for completing this course? This section shows you how.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain what a governing body is and the roles, duties and responsibilities of a charity board
  • Identify your own conflicts of interest, reflect on the suitability of your potential appointment as a board member and contribute to managing your conflicts of interests
  • Investigate a charity you are thinking of joining as a board member and evaluate key indicators to help you assess how the charity is functioning
  • Reflect on the significance of reputation in the charity sector, explain the board’s role in reputation management and describe concrete steps the board can take in managing their charity’s reputation

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone who wants to use their passions, skills, and connections to do good. Whether you’re starting out your charitable career or are an existing board member, this course will help you assess if a charity is the right fit for you.

Who will you learn with?

Rachel Gear is the ACNC's Instructional Designer and Lead Educator for the eLearning Program. She's committed to designing and teaching accessible and relevant professional development for adults.

Rachel Smith is the Director of Advice Services, Education and Public Affairs, and is the Director behind the ACNC’s eLearning program. She’s been with the ACNC since it started.

Who developed the course?

Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the national regulator of charities. We register and regulate Australia’s many charities. We help charities understand and meet their obligations through information, advice and guidance. We help the public understand the work of the charity sector and provide a free searchable register of Australian registered charities.

  • Established

  • Location

    Melbourne, Victoria

What's included?

Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission are offering everyone who joins this course a free digital upgrade, so that you can experience the full benefits of studying online for free. This means that you get:

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • A PDF Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
  • Learning on FutureLearn

    Your learning, your rules

    • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
    • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
    • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

    Join a global classroom

    • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
    • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
    • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

    Map your progress

    • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
    • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
    • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

    Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

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