The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) has defined the role of the Advisory Council and how the council relates to an AAA governing board. It states: Boards of Directors and Advisory Councils usually exist simultaneously when the designated AAA is private and non-profit. The Board and Advisory Council are essential components of the Area Agency, which serve as sources of leadership and community support. However for the Board and Advisory Council to function effectively, a distinction must be made between them.
A Board of Directors is a governing body, appointed to establish policy for the AAA and to develop procedures for carrying out those policies. Advisory Council offers advice and recommendations to the Board and Agency staff to help them accomplish their goals and implement policies and procedures. An Advisory Council has no official governing power, and its authority is derived from its ability to enhance the expertise and understanding of Board officials with respect to needs, services, problems, and opportunities to improve service delivery to older persons.
N4A states the basic differences between boards and advisory councils include:
- Board sets policy/Advisory Council advises on it;
- Board hires AAA director/Advisory Council reviews resumes and makes recommendations; and
- Board supervises AAA director/Advisory Council offers advice and assistance.
Conclusion: Given the differences between advisory councils and boards, both are essential components of AAA’s. Boards often rely on Advisory Councils input and recommendations as part of the decision making process.