Job Descriptions

Council Chair

Council Chair Job Description & Key Responsibilities

The council chair is the chief executive officer of the council. This volunteer is responsible for the general and active management of the business and affairs of the council. The council chair presides at all membership meetings and should supervise the operations of the council and all of its chapters, making sure that the various officers and directors are performing their jobs properly and offering them assistance whenever necessary. In this position, a team approach and delegative nature have been found to be most effective in ensuring the long-term sustainability and health of a council.

The council chair is expected to review and understand the organization’s bylaws, policies and procedures, financial and legal situation, and strategic plan. The chair, working closely with the council treasurer, is responsible for key financial reporting and controls for the council, including filing the Annual Financial Report within 45 days of the close of the fiscal year, ensuring that state and local filing / registration requirements are met, that the relevant IRS Form 990s have been filed, and that proper financial controls are in place. The chair should also ensure that all of the chapters in the state are in compliance with filing deadlines, risk management requirements, and are in good overall health.

The chair acts as a spokesperson for the chapters in the state and plays a very important role coordinating and collaborating with TU staff. The chair may be asked to arbitrate chapter or council-level conflicts.

An effective TU council chair is a good administrator, because many of his or her responsibilities will be overseeing the work of council committees, coordinating their activities and assisting them with various special projects from time to time. Anyone taking on this role should have demonstrated leadership skills, feel comfortable delegating, have good group dynamic skills and have the ability to communicate well, listen and seek input from others.


Key Council Chair Responsibilities

This simple checklist is intended to help new council chairs understand the key functions of the role, but please keep in mind that every council is different, so it’s critical to cater a comprehensive checklist to those realities.


Leadership, Vision & Planning

When first taking over, confer with the outgoing chair to ask for lessons learned and a position description (example position description).

Develop and implement the council’s strategic plan – often chairs the strategic planning committee while serving as vice chair prior to election as council chair.

Plan, preside over, and facilitate board and executive committee meetings.

With the executive committee, prepare an agenda for each council meeting and distribute it out to the council, with associated reading materials such as the past meeting’s minutes, well in advance of each meeting.

Consider rotating the location of your council meetings and also consider teleconferencing options for interim meetings.

Appoint committee chairs and serve ex-officio on committees. Good council level committees might include:

Executive

Nominating

Conservation

Advocacy

Youth Education

Veterans

Diversity

Membership

Fundraising


Communications

Assist the nominating committee in recruiting council leadership and aid in new council leader orientations.

Identify and groom your replacement in the vice chair position.

Periodically consult with council leaders and chapter presidents on their roles, help them assess their performance, and plan for leadership development and succession. Mentor and train your council vice chair.


Administrative & Legal

Ensure the outgoing council chair lists you as the chair in the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org.

Update your council’s information and the list of council leaders.

Review documents and data stored there such as:

Past Annual Financial Reports for the council and its chapters

Your council (and chapter’s) strategic plans and bylaws

A list of leaders at the chapter level

Ensure that elections are carried out regularly in accordance with the council’s bylaws.

Ensure that board resolutions are carried out.


Financial & Fundraising

Make sure the signatories on the chapter bank account are current and that bank electronic funds transfer information is on file with TU national for delivery of the rebate.

With the chapter treasurer, ensure the timely filing of the Annual Financial Report, required IRS Forms and subsequent financial controls for financial management and reporting. Support chapters in doing the same.

Read and become familiar with the 2015 Policy on Financial and Property Controls and TU’s risk management and insurance limitations and ensure the council and it’s chapters are in compliance.

Ensure the council is meeting all state-level legal and fiduciary reporting/ registration requirements.

Ensure donations to your council are properly acknowledged.

With the Executive Committee, develop, approve and track a budget of council expenses and revenues each fiscal year.

Establish a diverse fundraising strategy for the council in coordination with chapters and local staff that might include things like: a year-end appeal letter, an annual banquet, merchandise sales, or an online crowdfunding campaign.


Assisting & Supporting Chapters

Provide recommendations for chapter rechartering and dechartering to TU as required.

Work with your chapters to help them complete the Chapter Effectiveness Index (CEI) which is filed in the Leaders Only Tools section within 45 days of the close of the fiscal year.

Review outcomes and metrics created by the CEI for evaluating chapter effectiveness.

When appropriate, provide recommendations for formation of new chapters and/or reassignment of zip codes among existing chapters.

If appropriate, coordinate conservation projects between chapters (e.g. if a small or urban chapter needs a project, match them up with another chapter with an existing project.)

Serve as an arbitrator if conflicts at the chapter-level arise.

Organize a chapter support plan that includes opportunities for chapter leaders to learn and grow in their leadership while interfacing with the council.


State Level Communications

Oversee council communications efforts to members in the state and ensure the delivery of your communications comes through multiple channels (newsletter, e-newsletter, social media, website, etc…)

Communicate with chapter and council volunteer leaders in your state on a regular basis. Consider setting up an e-mail listserv and remember to use the tools available to you in the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org to identify and keep up to date the leaders lists in your state.

Serve as the main point of contact for state-based staff and coordinate communications and activities between the grassroots and staff.

Read the monthly publication Lines to Leaders and stay abreast of important updates from national staff and share with other leaders in the state.

Ensure that important information is conveyed from the NLC and TU staff to all TU chapters in the state, and vice versa, that important information from grassroots and chapters is communicated to TU at the national level.

Participate in bi-annual council chair phone conferences organized by TU staff.

Develop and manage relationships and communicate with partners, the media and other stakeholders.

Serve as the spokesperson for the council at public gatherings and hearings.

If council funds are available, attend the TU regional rendezvous held in your area each spring and the TU annual meeting.


Conservation & Advocacy

Organize and serve on a conservation committee of the council to implement the conservation goals identified in the council strategic plan.

Represent members in the state with a coordinated advocacy initiative in the state capital. Work with state-based staff, where applicable, or TU Volunteer Operations staff to help coordinate this work with other TU entities.

Council Vice Chair

Council Vice Chair

The vice chair of a council is second in command at the council level. He or she should strive to maintain a relatively high profile in the council, be on friendly terms with all members and generally provide support and assistance to the chair. The vice chair helps the council chair guide the council in fulfilling its stated and chartered roles. In cooperation with the council chair, the vice chair supports and implements measures to ensure that the council’s time and resources are invested wisely, and in a manner that will ensure the current and future health of the council.

Often councils use the vice chair position as training for the position of council chair. Council vice chairs should be sure to read the description of council chair and be prepared to take on all or some of those roles as needed.

Towards the end of their term, the council vice chair often leads the council’s strategic planning process, as they will be taking over the council as chair during the implementation of that strategic plan and should have full ownership of the goals and outcomes of the plan.


In addition, the vice chair should:

Preside over meetings from which the chair is absent.

Provide support and assistance to the chair in order to achieve the core functions of the council.

Perform duties as assigned by the chair or the council Executive Committee.

Build relationships with individual chapter leaders and ensure every chapter has a vice president in place.

Consider working with your chair to organize a chapter presidents forum where current presidents and vice presidents can come together to discuss leadership topics and share best practices.

Council Secretary

Council Secretary

The secretary performs a variety of tasks aimed at managing the records and administrative functions of the council. The role has wide-ranging responsibilities, requiring much more than simply being present at all board meetings. He or she is an active conduit for communication to members and other stakeholders by giving proper notice of upcoming meetings and timely distribution of materials such as agendas and meeting minutes. Additionally, the secretary should be knowledgeable of and provide advice and resources to the board and chapter secretaries in your geography on topics such as governance issues, state laws/ reporting requirements, and risk management that will assist them in fulfilling their fiduciary duties.


Key Responsibilities

The council secretary must ensure that the following responsibilities are completed (personally or delegates tasks):

In conjunction with the executive committee, prepare an agenda for each council meeting and distribute it out to the board, with associated reading materials, in advance of the meeting.

Attend council meetings in order to prepare and distribute the meeting minutes.

Meeting minutes are detail reports that highlight the predetermined agenda as well as what actually took place (date, time, attendees), determination of vote eligibility (was there a quorum or not), decision making process (vote tally), action items for individuals, etc…

After each meeting, send the minutes to the attendees to solicit edits and confirm their accuracy before finalizing them.

Distribute the previous meeting minutes with the upcoming agenda before each board meeting so that they can be formally approved.

Retain records. These documents may include:

Board and committee rosters

Bylaws & revisions (which can be stored in the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org)

Strategic Plan (which can be stored in the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org)

Agendas and minutes

Assist in the communication and correspondence of the board to members and the general public, including notice of your general membership meetings to members as required in your bylaws.

Support and guide chapter secretaries in your council geography by providing coaching and training opportunities.

In councils without a membership committee or membership chair, the secretary is expected to maintain and report on the state roster of members and develop statewide membership growth and engagement goals as part of the strategic plan.

Assist with board member recruitment.

Assume responsibilities of the chair in the absence of the chair and vice chair.

In conjunction with the executive and nominating committees, prepare the slate of board nominees for elections as required per your bylaws.

With the executive committee, become familiar with and understand TU’s risk management and insurance limitations and ensure the council and its chapters are compliant.

Ensure the council chair lists you as the secretary on the officer roster and council contact information in the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org.

Particularly if your council is large enough to file a Form 990, ensure that you have the proper controls in place such as a document retention policy, conflict of interest form and whistle blower policy and that you’ve shared the Form 990 with your entire council board.

Ensure donations to your council are properly acknowledged.

Consider appointing an assistant secretary, the membership committee chair is often a good choice, such that you are transferring knowledge to a successor at an early stage and have someone ready and willing to step in to take the minutes if you can’t be at every meeting.

Consider assisting chapter secretaries in your council area by welcoming them in their new role as well as facilitating communication among chapter secretaries to learn from one another and build interest in council leadership opportunities.

Council Treasurer

Council Treasurer

The role of a treasurer is without a doubt one of the most important in the council. It is critical that the treasurer be conscientious and have good systems in place; otherwise the council is at serious risk. The council treasurer is not only tasked with managing the council’s financial and legal affairs, but also with ensuring, in partnership with the council chair and executive committee, that all chapters in the council are also following TU policies, have financial controls in place and are in full compliance with applicable state and local laws.


Key Responsibilities

This simple checklist is intended to help new treasurers understand the key functions of the role, but please keep in mind that every council is different so it’s critical to cater a comprehensive checklist to those realities, which might include such things as state or local filing requirements.


When starting out, confer with the council chair and outgoing treasurer to ask for lessons learned and make sure the signatories on the council bank account are current.

The council treasurer must read and become familiar with the 2015 Policy on Financial and Property Controls and ensure the chapter is in compliance. Most critically:

That at least one member of the council’s board (who is not able to withdraw funds) is reviewing on a monthly basis each of the council’s bank account records and the records of any debit or credit card transactions. Confirm that your financial reviewer is listed as a leader in the Leaders Only Tools section of www.tu.org.

That the council keeps a current written inventory of all personal property in excess of $200 in value that the chapter owns.

That the council has a process in place to keep any restricted donations restricted for the purpose which the donor intended.

With the executive committee, become familiar with and understand TU’s risk management and insurance limitations and ensure the chapter is compliant – from the limitations of our 501c3 to liquor liability.

Ensure the council chair lists you as the new treasurer on the officer roster and council contact information in the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org. This is critical as it allows you access the Annual Financial Report, among other things.

Ensure the council Annual Financial Report is filed within 45 days of the close of the fiscal year. To file this report, the treasurer will be asked a series of questions that aren’t all financial related (like volunteer hours.) It is strongly recommended that the treasurer get assistance from other volunteers to help track these sorts of metrics throughout the year to make filing easier.

File required Forms with the IRS each year. Questions about the correct Form 990 to file? Please visit: www.irs.gov or TU’s online resources for financial management and reporting.

Ensure you’re tracking and assisting chapters in your state to file the Annual Financial Report and relevant Form 990.

Particularly if your council is large enough to file a Form 990, ensure that you have the proper controls in place such as a document retention policy, conflict of interest form and whistle blower policy and that you’ve shared the Form 990 with your entire council board.

With the Executive Committee, develop, approve and track a budget of council expenses and revenues each fiscal year.

Ensure that your council is set up with an electronic funds transfer (EFT) with the national office of TU to ensure delivery of the rebate or an Embrace A Stream grant.

Ensure donations to your council are properly acknowledged.

Consider appointing an assistant treasurer, possibly the financial reviewer, such that you are transferring knowledge to a successor at an early stage and getting help with administrative tasks.

Financial Reviewer

Council Financial Reviewer Role

Trout Unlimited councils work hard to raise funds for conservation and related purposes, and one of the most important responsibilities of council officers and boards is to safeguard and protect those funds so they are used for the purposes for which they were raised. A few simple steps taken by council officers and boards of directors can safeguard those funds and other council assets.

TU’s Board of Trustees created a Financial and Property Controls Policy to provide guidance to council leaders on how best to protect council assets. The policy also establishes and requires the role of Financial Reviewer, described more fully below from the policy.

The best check against the temptation for financial fraud is for more than one council officer to review each of the council’s bank-account records (including the records of any debit-card and electronic-banking transactions) and the records of any credit-card transactions. Therefore, councils must provide access to the records of all council accounts and all council credit cards to one council officer – called the Financial Reviewer – who is not authorized to sign checks, otherwise withdraw funds from the accounts, or make charges on a council credit card.

That officer could be an assistant treasurer whose sole function is to review the accounts, or it could be an existing officer. That access may be electronic through the relevant financial institution and credit-card company or through hard copies of bank and credit-card statements, but the records reviewed must show the date, amount, and payee of the transactions. Electronic access must not be of the type that gives the reviewing officer the power to withdraw or transfer funds from the council’s accounts.

If hard copies of bank or credit-card statements are used, they must be mailed directly from the financial institution or credit-card company to the officer charged with reviewing the records, who can then forward the statements, after review, to the treasurer. The council officer charged with reviewing the records of the council accounts and credit cards must review those records at least monthly and must report any inappropriate checks, debits, or charges to the council’s board of directors.

You may also consider assisting chapter financial reviewers in your council area to welcome them in their new role as well as facilitate communication to learn from one another’s efforts.

National Leadership Council (NLC)

Overview of the NLC:

NATIONAL CONSERVATION AGENDA

NLC REPRESENTATIVE LEADERSHIP MANUAL

NLC BUSINESS DOCUMENTS

The role of the National Leadership Council (NLC) and its rules for functioning are detailed in Article IV. of the TU bylaws and in this comprehensive NLC Representative Manual. The NLC is the volunteer body that sets the direction of TU and is made up of one representative elected from each state of TU’s 36 councils.


The NLC has three purposes:

Click here to read a history of the NLC

Click here to download the NLC Representative Manual The NLC accomplishes these three tasks by being a conduit between councils and TU national. NLC Representatives bring issues and concerns from their states to the national level and then bring decisions and initiatives from the national level back to their councils. The NLC meets annually in person at the Annual Meeting and via teleconferences throughout the year.The NLC Chair and Secretary are elected annually by the members of the NLC and serve on the TU Board of Trustees. In addition, the NLC nominates grassroots trustees to serve on the Board as well as Embrace-a-Stream committee members.NLC Representatives also serve on workgroups that focus on specific conservation or organizational issues that span more than two states. NLC workgroups are established to address regional or organization-wide issues. These workgroups are composed mainly, but not exclusively, of NLC members and are supported by one or more staff members. There are two main categories of workgroups: conservation and organizational. The current NLC workgroups are:

The composition and tasks of workgroups will change with time. To find out more about current NLC workgroups ask your council’s NLC Representative.

The purpose of the National Conservation Agenda (NCA) is to chart the course for all components of TU – national staff, councils, chapters and members – to work together on a shared enterprise to implement TU’s mission. The most recent NCA was adopted in September of 2018 and can be viewed in full online. The critical focus areas were identified as:

  • Bristol Bay Pebble Mine
  • Yellowstone National Park native fish conservation
  • Gas & oil development including, but not limited to, withdrawal, distribution, sand mining, and waste management.
  • Clean Water Act
  • Good Samaritan fix via legislation or administration
  • Hard rock mining issues
  • Climate change
  • Trout Unlimited capacity

Strategic Planning

TU Council Strategic Planning Resources and Templates

Developing a strategic plan for your council may sound intimidating. However the process does not need to be daunting to identify simple goals and commitments for the next three to five years. Below are resources that can support your team in cultivating a plan to guide your efforts, making a substantial difference in the effectiveness of your council.

The strategic planning process offers volunteer leaders a rare opportunity to pause and look at the council as a whole and develop, as a collective, a concrete vision of the impact the council intends to make over the next few years. It is a time to connect the dots between mission and programs, to specify the resources that will be required to deliver those programs, and to establish criteria that allow everyone to understand whether the desired results were achieved.

Strategic Planning Resources

Ready to get started on your council’s plan? These resources can help:

Read: Trout Unlimited Strategic Plan – 2015-2020

Your council’s strategic plan should follow the mission and goals of Trout Unlimited’s national plan, but with a focus on the issues and resources in your council geography. You should also check with your chapters to review and better understand their strategic plans, focusing attention on specific goals or trends that your team may incorporate.


Watch: Strategic Planning – Building a Roadmap for Growth

This one-hour recorded training covers the ins and outs of chapter strategic planning and offers helpful tips and guidance from TU staff and fellow volunteers that is also applicable to council strategic planning.


Watch: Using Data to Drive Strategy

This one-hour recorded training reviews how you can use your chapters’ Annual Financial Report and other data to develop aspects of your plan.


Use: The Strategic Planning Template

This document can be used as a guide, or just as a starting point to help organize your strategic planning process.

Strategic Planning Tips

Below, you’ll find some general guidelines for developing your council’s strategic plan and a few examples of how a simple strategic plan can lay the groundwork for your council’s efforts.

  1. The council chair should convene a small workgroup or committee. Not all strategic planning committee members need to be current board members, i.e. Your committee may benefit from thoughtfully populating your group with diverse chapter representation as well as up and coming chapter and council leaders. A chair of the committee should be identified so that it is clear who is responsible for facilitating meetings, identifying action items, giving direction, and following through.
  2. The strategic planning workgroup should start by collecting feedback from your members, partners, and regionally based staff about the council’s internal strengths and weaknesses, and also your external opportunities and threats, a process commonly called a “SWOT” analysis. Surveys are a good tool for gathering this information, but so too are simple conversations. As you go through, it’s not enough to ask, “What is our council’s biggest weakness?” you have to go a step further and say, “Why have we neglected this area?” It also helps to think of your strengths as opportunities for growth. “We have great engagement on social media, but how can we move a higher percentage of those supporters to donate or volunteer? Gathering outside perspective can be incredibly helpful.
  3. Have each of the strategic planning workgroup members re-read the TU national strategic plan. Then, check in with your chapters to review their plans and solicit their input into your process. We are much more likely to be successful achieving our organizational vision when we plan and work together across the organization. Your workgroup members will likely notice commonalities. Work together to identify trends through your conversations.
  4. In a subsequent meeting, the strategic planning workgroup aims to put pen to paper and draft the elements of the plan using the template below, which divides your strategic plan into six parts: Conservation, Communications, Engagement, Fundraising, Chapter Development, and Council Development. Addressing all of these areas ensures your council will remain strong and resilient as leadership changes.
  5. The chair of the strategic planning committee takes the draft written by committee and cleans it up into a short, clean and compelling piece. This draft plan is then reviewed by the full council board of directors and the chapters before a full council board vote. After that, the plan is finalized and should be uploaded to the Leaders Only Tools section of tu.org so that all chapter board members can easily access and review it over the life of the plan.
  6. The strategic planning committee should set calendar reminders to bring the plan forward throughout the year at board meetings, committee meetings and inclusion in council communications to ensure the council is on track or even to edit or revise as circumstances change.

Required Policies to Follow

Safeguarding TU assets, protecting your Council and Chapters against liability, and ensuring our credibility remains strong relies on a focused effort to make sure all the policies, procedures and requirements are being followed. These essential steps not only help prevent future issues, they strengthen your practices and increase your abilities as a volunteer-led organization.

Financial Controls and Reporting

Requirements Dictated by TU’s 501(c)3

Liability and Risk Management

Important TU Policies

Chapter Support

Chapter Support

Trout Unlimited State Councils play an important role in furthering the conservation mission by supporting chapters, empowering the grassroots and fostering change at the policy level. Councils have the unique ability to create a support network for their chapters by providing critical trainings, one-on-one coaching and opportunities for chapters to simply learn from each other’s successes.

Whether your council incorporates chapter development opportunities into regular council meetings, recruits and supports committee chairs to offer special training sessions throughout the year or plans retreats with both business and fun on the agenda, there are resources available to maximize your council efforts to support your chapters.

The following resources are designed to help your council continue to support and grow your chapters and bring the TU conservation mission to life in communities across your state. Your Volunteer Operations Staff are available to answer questions and offer advice.

General Resources, Guides & Documents

Starting a New Chapter

Supporting Chapters