Volunteer for the Board of Directors

OHS Board of Directors: Is it for me?

Recruitment is currently closed.

What is the Board of Directors?

The Board of Directors is the governance body of the Ottawa Humane Society (OHS). On behalf of the community, and representing the members of the OHS, the Board provides the strategic direction, resources, and high-level oversight for the organization to be successful in achieving its mission and goals.

Who serves on the OHS Board?

Board members come from all walks of life. They share a commitment to the OHS and the animals in our care and community and have skills that are required by the Board. Ideally but not exclusively, candidates are sought with Board and/or volunteer experience at charitable/not-for-profit organizations, and with expertise in some of the following areas: governance; management/strategic planning; evaluation/performance management; fundraising; government; finance/accounting; legal or regulatory; human resources/recruitment & retention; privacy/security; information technology and/or communications.

The Ottawa Humane Society values diversity. We encourage candidates to self-identify, if they wish, as visible minorities, LGBTQ, newcomers to Canada, indigenous peoples or persons with disabilities, for example.

Other characteristics include:

  • Age: By law, Board members must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Education: Formal education is not a requirement for all Board positions, though it is desirable to have certain professionals on the Board to ensure an appropriate mix of perspectives at the table. Many candidates may possess a combination of work and personal experience that provides them with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the financial, administrative, ethical and policy issues that may be discussed at the Board.
  • Knowledge/Awareness: Candidates should possess an interest in animal welfare and should understand the need to demonstrate a public image that is in keeping with the philosophies and goals of the OHS.
  • Personal Suitability: It is desirable to have Board members who are willing and have confidence to challenge proposed policies, activities, etc., of the organization. The ability to challenge must be tempered with recognition of the need to work in a cooperative and collegial manner and demonstrate a style that values consensus and unity.
  • Financial Commitment: All Board members are expected to make a meaningful personal financial commitment to the OHS.

What is expected of me as a Board member?

The Board of Directors usually meets once every Quarter for a full-day meeting on a Saturday, at the OHS. Reports, background materials, and other documentation are sent to Board members several days before the meeting, and Board members are expected to have read the materials and have their questions and comments prepared.

The successful candidate must be willing and able to devote a minimum of 12 hours per month to Board duties. Board members are generally elected for a two-year term, and may be re-elected for two more consecutive two-year terms (totalling six (6) years).

The main responsibilities of the OHS Board are to:

  1. Determine mission and purpose. It is the Board’s responsibility to create and review a statement of mission and purpose that articulates the organization’s goals, means, and primary constituents served.
  2. Select the President and CEO. The Board must reach consensus on the President and CEO’s responsibilities and undertake a careful search to find the most qualified individual for the position. The Board will ensure that there is a succession plan in place.
  3. Support and evaluate the President and CEO. The Board should ensure that the President and CEO has the support he/she needs to further the goals of the organization.
  4. Ensure effective strategic planning. The Board must actively participate in an overall strategic planning process and assist in implementing and monitoring the plan’s goals.
  5. Monitor and strengthen programs and services. The Board’s responsibility is to determine which programs are consistent with OHS’s mission and monitor their effectiveness.
  6. Ensure adequate financial resources. One of the Board’s foremost responsibilities is to secure adequate resources for the OHS to fulfill its mission.
  7. Protect assets and provide proper financial oversight. The Board must assist in developing the annual budget and ensuring that proper financial controls are in place.
  8. Build a competent Board. The Board has a responsibility to articulate prerequisites for candidates, orient new members, and periodically and comprehensively evaluate their own performance.
  9. Ensure legal and ethical integrity. The Board is ultimately responsible for adherence to legal standards and ethical norms.
  10. Enhance the OHS’s public standing. The Board should clearly articulate the OHS’s mission, accomplishments, and goals to the public and garner support from the community.
  11. Manage risk. The board must assess and address risk to the organization and ensure timely and proper corresponding responses.

Since discussions may involve confidential or sensitive issues, Board members are asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement and an agreement to adhere to the OHS Ethics Policy.

Board members are expected to attend most, if not all, major OHS events.

In addition to the quarterly meetings and periodic events, Board members are expected to serve on at least one committee that typically meets once a month and when there, are usually assigned specific tasks to be completed individually or working in collaboration with other committee members.

What are the Board committees?

Much of the up-front, hands-on work that occurs prior to any issue coming to the Board, is done through the work of Board committees. The committees take the time to research issues, identify and evaluate options, and make recommendations. The Board depends on committees to present succinct information and recommendations upon which it can base decisions at its monthly meetings.

The bylaws of the OHS provide for four standing committees: Executive Committee, Finance & Audit Committee, Nominating Committee and Governance Committee.

The Executive Committee is comprised of the officers of the OHS: the Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and a member-at-large from the Board, in addition to the President and CEO. Its duties and responsibilities are set out in the bylaws, but essentially this committee provides more detailed oversight of the OHS operations. The Executive Committee is open to Board members elected to executive positions only.

The Finance & Audit Committee also has duties that are set out in the bylaws. In addition to its regular duties, however, the Finance & Audit Committee may also take on other projects such as establishing policies and procedures about important financial matters.

The Nominating Committee recruits and screens potential new Board members. Under the bylaws, the Nominating Committee is composed of at least three Board members and may also include Advisors from outside the Board. As Board vacancies occur, the Board’s Nominating Committee will advertise for applicants.

The Governance Committee’s duties are set out in the bylaws. The Governance Committee develops sound governance policies, procedures and techniques in order to pursue the development of the governance of the OHS.

The Board is authorized under the OHS bylaws to establish other committees depending on its priorities for the OHS.

In addition, if you are not already a member of the OHS, candidates shall become a member of the Ottawa Humane Society upon acceptance of your application by the Board of Directors.


Recruitment for the Board of Directors is currently closed.

What's in it for me?

There are many rewards by serving on the Board of Directors:

  1. Sharing with a team in the accomplishment of doing something important for the OHS and Ottawa’s animals;
  2. Using your skills in new ways, addressing very interesting issues;
  3. Learning more about the Ottawa Humane Society and how it operates;
  4. Meeting people who share your interests;
  5. Developing new skills;
  6. Developing your volunteer knowledge and skills – in the future, you may want to help other charities, too;
  7. Being associated with an organization that has been helping your community since 1888.

If you would like more information about what is entailed in being a member of the Board, please contact:

President and CEO
Ottawa Humane Society
613-725-3166, ext. 232

You can also contact the OHS manager of volunteers to learn more about other volunteer opportunities:

Manager of Volunteers
Ottawa Humane Society
613-725-3166 ext. 231