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The Trade Association Board Secretary: A Critical Role

The role of a trade association board secretary is critical for the smooth operations of the board. Secretaries will keep minutes of meetings, provide agendas, and make sure meetings are on task. Further, this role is responsible for ensuring that board members are given appropriate notice of meetings. He or she assures these meetings are held in a well-organized fashion. But is that all there is to this role?

The roles and responsibilities of the nonprofit board secretary

Important Skills for a Trade Association Board Secretary

A trade association secretary has to remain on top of everything. That also means they need to have a very fluid set of skills. Before you elect a secretary, consider if they have the following skills.

  • The ability to communicate with a varied group of people. A trade association secretary needs to communicate with all board members effectively.
  • The ability to organize and prioritize tasks. Boards often have many tasks that they have to prioritize, rather than doing everything at once.
  • The ability to take a project and run with it. Often, it is the secretary who is responsible for managing projects, and will need to do it on their own.
  • The ability to organize a lot of tasks at once. A trade association secretary doesn’t just have to manage their own tasks, but also the tasks of other people.

What Does a Trade Association Board Secretary Do?

Day-to-day, a trade association board secretary has the following responsibilities. During meetings, a nonprofit board secretary takes notes and will later compile those notes for everyone else. Duties include maintaining records and documentation, as well as recalling and facilitating the votes of the board. Other responsibilities include ensuring that the board’s policies are communicated, and making sure that directors and officers maintain high levels of accountability.

Primarily, the Trade association board secretary’s responsibilities are:

  • Scheduling and notifying board members of upcoming meetings.
  • Maintaining corporate records and holding members accountable for their tasks.
  • Writing and distributing meeting minutes.

However, though these responsibilities are direct, they touch every task the board does. Obviously, they also touch every meeting the board holds. The most visible thing a board secretary does is write the meeting minutes, but this certainly isn’t the only responsibility. Rather, the secretary is ultimately responsible for many of the administrative processes which control the board.

A secretary must be able to manage multiple aspects of the board, and must be extremely driven and detail-oriented. A successful secretary is going to be able to wear multiple hats and keep the other board members organized.

RELATED: Quick Guide: Board Officer Role Descriptions

What Are the Qualifications of a Trade Association Secretary?

Usually a trade association board secretary is someone well-versed in administrative work. A trade association secretary is usually another member of the board, and consequently the role is usually not paid, but one of passion. Association secretaries will have a set of soft skills (such as communication skills) but also general computer skills (such as computer applications).

Apart from this, the qualifications for a trade association secretary are quite broad. For a smaller trade organization, a secretary could be just about anyone who is able to learn quickly and juggle many things. For larger organizations, a secretary is more likely to have a full 4-year degree, and to have served in the role before.

If you love organizing and taking charge, being a trade association board secretary may be a great path for you. You’ll be able to exercise your wonderful communication skills. What’s more, you’ll have your hands in all aspects of the association’s work. The board secretary has the opportunity to make a REAL impact.

RELATED: Board Treasurer: More than a Bookkeeper


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