How to Become a Board Member
With God, All Things are Possible
We may not think of it in these terms but hopelessness can become a lifestyle—one with no societal boundaries. It doesn’t only afflict the poor, but it can certainly make people that way. Its insidious nature quietly claims confidence first, then energy. It can steal a person’s health and aspirations… good intentions, too. Little by little, hopelessness can destroy relationships and before you know it, it can take a job, a family, a home and then aim for life itself.
Sometimes societal circumstances and a few bad personal choices are all it takes to start the downward spiral. In Southern California, the economy itself can be the catalyst. Many are one lost paycheck away from being without a place to live. When hopeless people are on the doorstep of destitution, they are lonely, discouraged, vulnerable, often drug addicted and penniless, and in abusive or abandoned family situations. This is where we meet them.
For stopgap survival, many turn to social services, which are good and helpful in the short term. But the cycle of hopelessness is never really ended with a handout. What is needed is something that feeds the soul of a man. Something that raises his worth and gives him the mind for restoration.
The Rescue Mission Alliance has systematically grown a coalition of exemplary biblically-based missions throughout Southern California that brings both physical and spiritual life essential services to the thousands of downtrodden in our area. The staff, volunteers, pastors, board of directors, and eventually many of those who graduate the program desire to be the hands of feet of Christ on this earth, offering refuge, restoration, and recovery in His name.
If this resonates with you, serving on Rescue Mission Alliance’s board of directors may be for you. It’s a commitment of the heart and, if you have read this far, one that you may be praying about right now. As you mull it over, we’ve tried to anticipate your top ten questions. We invite you to read on, pray on, and maybe hear the sound of God calling you to help.
Ten Really Good Questions About Becoming a Board Member
1. Why sit on the Rescue Mission Alliance board?
“…you feed them” Christ told His disciples at the feeding of the 5,000. He meant this physically and spiritually. Christ knows His disciples can make a difference when faith is part of the equation. He calls each of us to use our gifts for the purposes of His kingdom. If you have been approached to join this board, it is because someone believes you have a heart for the homeless and the talent to bring even more excellence to the Rescue Mission Alliance operation. Rescue Mission Alliance board work is an opportunity to dig-in locally and to make a serious difference in the lives of thousands by guiding and guarding the vision of refuge, restoration, and recovery.
Attending one of the monthly program graduations is another way (and perhaps the best) to answer the question of “Why sit on this board?” There you will find the powerful evidence of life eternal. Once hopeless, these brave and blessed people stand and rejoice in their devotion to God and to the change He has brought to them.
2. What is the mission of the Rescue Mission Alliance?
Changing lives for good is our only business. Rescue Mission Alliance provides refuge, recovery, and restoration to hopeless men, women, and families in Southern California through programs that minister to the body, mind, and spirit.
3. How is the Rescue Mission Alliance structured?
The Rescue Mission Alliance office in Oxnard is the home office for all Rescue Mission Alliance activity and there are six main sites of activity in Oxnard, San Fernando Valley, Santa Maria, and Victorville. Each outreach has its own unique operation, director, staff, and advisory board, but is guided and supported by the overall Rescue Mission Alliance organization and RMA board of directors.
The original mission building, The Ventura County Rescue Mission is in Oxnard as is The Lighthouse for Women and Children. The San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission in North Hollywood operates rescue centers across their area in cooperation with local churches. The Valley Food Bank in Pacoima was added in 2001 to help the food insecure. The Central Coast Rescue Mission in Santa Maria operates a clean and sober mission for men. And the newest Rescue Mission Alliance acquisition in Victorville is the process of becoming a model for restoration in their community. Multiple thrift store operations across the operation provide an ongoing source of mission revenue and job training opportunities for the program residents.
4. How does the mission grow?
There are three components to this answer. Spiritually, Rescue Mission Alliance grows when God opens doors (which He has faithfully done from the beginning.) Financially, the alliance grows through the support of direct donations and through the revenue of mission owned-and-operated thrift store operations. Structurally, it grows by either identifying an under-served homeless population and starting an operation, or by finding like minded, existing missions that are struggling to survive without sufficient infrastructure. In the latter case, Rescue Mission Alliance provides leadership, support, and operational structure that enables these organizations to stand sturdy and continue to help the homeless in their area.
5. What is the role of the Rescue Mission Alliance board?
The board has fiduciary oversight for Rescue Mission Alliance. It also establishes policy for the organization, and is responsible for the hiring and performance objectives of the CEO. That’s the simplest picture.
Board members’ time and talents are put toward one of four standing board committees: executive, finance, governance, donor development. Each board member is expected to sit on one of these committees to tackle the more strategic issues that face the operation. Temporary sub-committees and task forces can fork from these committees on an ad-hoc basis. They are created and disbanded as necessary, and invite outside talent for temporary period to help solve whatever issue is at hand.
6. What does Rescue Mission Alliance look for in a board member? What will be expected of him/her?
Rescue Mission Alliance board members look alike in these ways: they are Christian believers in Jesus Christ and His power and word, they are actively attending a church, have business operations skills, and a heart for helping the less fortunate. There is a statement of faith on the website, which we encourage you to read. Beyond that, the board strives for diversity in background and talent.
If you ask our CEO, he will tell you that he wants his board to have a future focus, to be active in leadership and to help develop the vision for the organization. Because of this and because of the nature of the four standing committees (see question 5), we actively search for board member who are skilled in finance and investment, business organization and development, real estate, human resources, marketing, and operations.
7. Are board members asked to fund-raise?
No. Many boards require its members to raise money. The Rescue Mission Alliance board does not. Certainly, active personal giving to mission is a natural byproduct of service, but fund raising per se is never something that will be put on your to-do list.
8. What is the time commitment?
The board meets monthly, usually the third Tuesday evening of each month. The meetings are typically in Oxnard however, they will infrequently travel to one of the mission locations to give everyone a chance to see the entire operation.
There are also two all-day meetings per year, one for planning in February and one for a financial overview in June at the end of the fiscal year. Committees also meet ad hoc and independently from these scheduled sessions. Your attendance at mission events such as graduation ceremonies, holiday events, banquets, and special programs is encouraged, but at your discretion.
9. How are the meetings structured?
A monthly agenda, financials, and Director’s reports from the individual missions are emailed to board members in advance of the meeting to allow for early preparation and to limit the time spent on details when we are gathered together.
The meetings themselves begin and end with prayer, and the agenda is a combination of financial and operational reports from the mission locations and strategic discussions revolving around expansion or development. The board is invited to heartily debate. The board operates under Roberts Rules of Order.
10. What is the orientation like for a board member?
New board members have provisional status for six months. During that time, they are invited to attend all the meetings, but are not permitted to vote. After six months, there is an opportunity for you to commit (or not) and an opportunity for the board to vote you into the organization or decide to part company. The fit must be right for you and for the board or your service will likely be unsatisfying for you and unproductive for the mission.
Once you move beyond provisional status, you commit to a three-year term, which is reviewed and renewed at the end of its length.