The board orientation manual, or board manual as it sometimes called, is the final piece of the board orientation process. It also happens to be a tangible piece that the board members can take with them and, hopefully, refer to again and again. And, a tip for success… provide an updated board manual for all board members every year so that they have the latest information about the organization in one contained location.
Since you will want board members to use the manual and refer to it throughout the year, you will want to make it as easy to use as possible. One of the best ways to do this is through the use of dividers or tabs and a table of contents so that the specific information they are looking for is simple to find.
Below is a list of information that you will want to include in your board orientation manual. Please note that the first list is a must for all organizations.
- History of the organization – help board members to understand how and why the organization was started. Update the history each year to include highlights of the past year so that the organizational history is always complete.
- Current board roster including contact information and officer roles for all board members.
- Board member affirmation or commitment statement.
- Dates of board meetings for the current year (this will help with meeting attendance as board members can mark their calendars in advance and plan to attend meetings).
- Governing documents – Articles of Incorporation, By-laws, Conflict of Interest Policy, etc.
- Job Descriptions – Include a job description for all board members and a specific description of the responsibilities of each officer.
- Board Policies – How does the board operate?
- Board meeting agenda and a copy of the minutes from the most recent meeting – If there is an issue that the board has been dealing with over several meetings, it will also be helpful to provide a summary of the issue. Note, that you are not trying to sway the board member to take a stance on the issue; your goal is simply to provide information so that the board member understands the discussion when it comes up at the next board meeting.
- Committee list – For each committee, provide an explanation of the role of the committee and who is the chair. If it is an expectation that all board members serve on a committee, this should be included in the board affirmation statement.
- Current operating budget.
- Copy of current financials.
- Most recent 990 and financial audit or review.
While it is a best practice for organizations to have a strategic plan, not all do. If your organization is fortunate enough to have one, you will also want to include a copy in the manual. You may also want to include a copy of the organizational chart so that board members understand the relationship between positions and between programs and services offered by the organization.
Putting together a comprehensive board orientation process and manual can seem overwhelming. However, doing so will help you to attract board members who are committed and passionate about the work of the organization. And, board members who understand the organization and what is expected of them are effective board members.
Does your organization need help with an orientation process? Contact us today, we can help!