Within each organisation, it is possible that an individual on the board will be appointed to perform additional duties in the position of an ‘honorary officer’. The most common honorary positions are those of chair, deputy/vice chair and treasurer. Honorary positions tend to be unpaid and should not be confused with the duties performed by paid staff. To ensure that all board members are clear as to their role and responsibilities it is advisable to have role descriptions for the board as a whole and specific ones dealing with these honorary positions.

It is important to remember that all board members are collectively responsible for the decisions and governance of the organisation. This does not mean that they must agree on every decision taken, but that they all have a duty to actively participate in the decision-making process.

Of critical importance is the position of chair.


The primary role of the chair is to provide leadership to the board. Some view the position as that of ‘first amongst equals’, an ambassador, and the public face of the organisation. Each body is likely to require different things from the role of chair and the board should discuss these when developing a role description for the position.


An effective chair will provide leadership and management to the board, enabling them to fulfil their responsibilities for the overall governance and strategic direction of the organisation. The chair will play an integral role in ensuring that appropriate decisions are correctly made, including developing the organisation’s aims in accordance with the governing document and legal and regulatory guidelines, and monitoring performance.

The chair will set the conditions for the overall board and the individual effectiveness of board members. They will also set clear expectations concerning the organisation's culture, values and behaviour, leading the board in ensuring that these are embedded and enforced.

The chair will need to work in partnership with the chief executive and governance lead or company secretary to ensure that decisions are acted upon and the organisation is managed effectively. The chair and chief executive should fully understand the difference between the role the board plays in governance, developing and agreeing the strategic direction, and that of the senior management team in applying that strategy to the day-to-day operations of the charity. With this distinction in mind, the roles of chair and chief executive should be separate and should not be fulfilled by the same individual. This is also a requirement of the Code for Sports Governance (1.17).

It is not a requirement of the Code that an organisation appoints a vice-chair, but Requirement 1.20 of Tier 3 states t

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