January 2010: Follow the Leader: Leadership Roles and Responsibilities

Issue 40: January 2010

Follow the Leader: Leadership Roles and Responsibilities 




Having strong leadership is the foundation for any effective PFLAG chapter because it creates a structure that helps you provide better services to your community and better support to your members. While understanding and establishing chapter leadership can seem intimidating, it doesn’t have to be.  In fact, there are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind when you’re looking at building your chapter.

To get started, keep in mind that in order to be recognized under PFLAG National’s tax-exempt  501(c)3 umbrella, most Secretaries of State (via the Articles of Incorporation that all chapters complete) require that chapters have (at minimum) a president, secretary and treasurer. These three positions must be held by three separate people who do not live together and are not related.

Here is an example of what these roles might look like:


  • Works with the treasurer to develop a budget
  • Presides over board and membership meetings
  • Represents PFLAG in the community
  • Performs other duties related to the overall leadership and maintenance of the chapter


  • In charge of maintaining minutes from board meetings and the annual meeting
  • Works with the chapter president and treasurer to maintain chapter records
  • Sends out notices and reminders to members about upcoming meetings and events


  • Oversees the chapter budget
  • Maintains financial records and receipts and manages the distribution of funds
  • Provides a detailed financial report at each board meeting and a summary at membership meetings
  • Completes necessary financial paperwork

It is ok for chapters to mix and match the duties of chapter leaders. Some chapters’ boards brainstorm to determine what tasks need to be accomplished and then divide it up. What’s important is that the roles are clearly defined and that the leadership knows what is expected of them.

In addition to the three required positions, many chapters have additional leadership roles. Some other positions that chapters have include: membership coordinator, fundraising chair, safe schools coordinator, advocacy coordinator, librarian, new member coordinator, programming coordinator, faith coordinator, and diversity coordinator. The possibilities are endless, and the more people you have involved in running the chapter, the more you will be able to share the workload, and the more you will be able to accomplish.

Chapter leaders should meet together separately from the overall membership on a monthly basis to discuss any chapter business. Many chapter boards find that meeting before or after the general meeting is more convenient than finding a separate day when everyone is available. The leadership should also provide a short summary of the board’s activities at each meeting of the general membership. Keeping the membership informed of the work the board is doing makes members feel more connected to the chapter. Remember: If your chapter members are worried about finances, leadership, or that work is not being accomplished then they are not focused on supporting each other – the primary goal of our meetings!



It is important for all organizations, big and small, to maintain proper records. Proper record keeping helps us maintain our history as our leadership revolves and evolves, keeps us from reinventing the wheel or wasting time looking for much needed documents, and members informed about what is happening and has happened within the chapter. 

It is important for PFLAG chapters to keep organized financial and organizational records in addition to membership information. Here are a couple of strategies that will help your chapter maintain proper records:

  • The president and secretary should work together to keep minutes and important forms such as contracts, chapter bylaws, and Articles of Incorporation on hand and should be prepared to pass them on as leadership transitions. Many chapters find that keeping these in a binder makes them accessible and easy to transition as leadership changes.
  • The president and secretary should also work closely with the treasurer to maintain detailed financial records. The treasurer should provide a copy of the chapter’s bank statement at every board meeting and an explanation of any expenses incurred during that period along with receipts.
  • Most PFLAG chapters fall under PFLAG National’s 501(c)3 status and therefore are required to submit yearly financial reports to PFLAG National and complete the online e-postcard for the IRS.
  • Transparency is essential in all chapter transactions and record keeping to keep members educated about and invested in what is happening within the chapter. All members of the board should ensure that the chapter is informed of what records exists, what they say, how money is being spent, and where the chapter sits financially each month. 



Chapters with strong leadership are better able to efficiently, creatively and consistently advocate for pro-LGBT policies at the local, state and national level. Clearly defining leadership roles and maintaining proper records are good ways to get started on creating strong leadership in your chapter. There are also a number of best practices that chapters should undertake to help strengthen the leadership and the overall chapter. Here are a few:

  • Familiarize yourself with your chapter’s bylaws (or write some!). Get to know what the bylaws say and make sure that you are following them.
  • Have annual elections. Elections are a good sign to the membership that the chapter is a democracy and that there is a way to get more involved. Without providing the opportunity, many people will not step up and express interest in getting involved in chapter leadership.
  • Hold an annual meeting. This is a great way to celebrate all that you have accomplished in the last year and determine the best way to move forward in the next year.
  • Have two check signers and be sure that both are looking at what they are signing. The chapter’s financial health is the responsibility of all board members and should be carefully monitored by all chapter leadership.
  • Be transparent with each other and the general membership. Members with a better understanding of what is going on are more likely to want to get involved themselves.

Still have questions about leadership roles and best practices? Contact your Field & Policy Coordinator or your Regional Director to learn more.

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