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Getting New Board Members on Board

Imagine that you have spent the time and energy to get just the “right” board members. They said, “Yes,” and you are now ready to bring them on-board. This is your opportunity to lay a foundation to create great board members. But, it is up to you to lay the foundation for this to happen….it’s not going to happen without effort.

As part of the recruitment process, let board members know that there will be an orientation. The orientation should be scheduled and conducted jointly by the Executive Director and the Board President. Note, many organizations feel so desperate for board members that they are accepted on a continuous basis throughout the year.  I would encourage you to re-think this process. By bringing new board members on just once or twice a year, you can make the onboarding process a concentrated effort that is meaningful and beneficial to the new board members.

It will be most helpful if you hold the orientation at the organization’s facility. Then, as part of the orientation, you can provide new board members with a tour to help them visualize the work of the nonprofit or ministry and to see how it all fits together. Once finished, use a board or conference room to spend some time meeting with the new board members.

The orientation meeting should include the following:

  • Review of mission, vision and values
  • Introduction of key staff members (finance officer, program director, etc)
  • Review of current issues facing the organization and the board
  • Highlight current funding sources and current financial position
  • Share accomplishments and goals for the future (strategic plan)

In addition, provide new board members with an orientation binder. Within the binder, include the following sections:

  • Welcome letter from the Board President
  • Minutes from board meetings from the last year
  • Copy of current budget
  • Board roster including contact information
  • Copy of strategic plan
  • Most recent audit and 990
  • History of organization
  • Copies of brochures and introductory information
  • Governing documents including Articles of Incorporation, By-laws, etc.
  • Conflict of Interest Policy
  • Financial Policies
  • Board Commitment Letter
  • Committees including description of their functions
  • Calendar of events for the year

You may also find it helpful to provide new board members with a mentor who will partner with them throughout the upcoming year to answer questions. Ideally, the mentor will be a board member who has been active for at least a year. The mentor will provide support throughout the first year which is crucial to the success of board members.

Tweak the process above to work for your organization, but an onboarding process will set your board members up for success. Laying the foundation from the very beginning will ensure everyone gets off on the right foot.

Perhaps you would like to get started with a board orientation process for your new board members but wonder what to do with those who have been serving on the board for a while. For this first board orientation, have all board members attend; then, you will have everyone on the same page.

How can we help you develop your board orientation process?

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