Of all the different Shul officer roles, the vice president is the one with the most unfulfilled potential. In theory the Vice President should be able to take some of the burden of the President, but it never seems to happen. Instead the Vice President is often under-worked and at the end of their term they sometimes seem slightly embarrassed at the small amount of work they did in that role.
One reason the vice president is under utilized is that most people recognize that the president is vested with the majority of power and so they go to him with their issues. A good president wants to address their members’ issues so he deals with the problem instead of handing them off to the vice-president. On the day-to-day issues, the vice president is rarely involved.
With regard to power sharing, most organizations have a man at the top structure. The buck starts and stops with one person. It’s rare that there exists a working power sharing arrangement. The roles of the secretary and treasurer are pretty well defined, but the vice president often does not have specific tasks to accomplish in the bylaws. Some Shuls explicitly specify tasks for the vice president, but in others those types of tasks are fulfilled by committees so the vice president is left with little to do.
An important role the vice president can fulfill is assisting the president in talking out issues. However sometimes the president will use a former president or a board member for input. If the president holds regular officer meetings then the vice president can be involved in the governing process through these meeting.
Perhaps the most important role for the vice president is president in waiting. Some vice presidents explicitly specify that they won’t serve as president, but many VPs do go on to become president. Being vice president insures that they are not coming into the presidency cold. Implicitly agreeing to become president is a huge commitment and for that alone we should express our appreciation for the vice president.