Now that you have recruited your board members and you’ve voted them in what do you need to do next? It’s time to notify the elected board members of the results and schedule them for a board orientation session.
This session is the critical next step in the board building process. As part of leadership development, new board members need to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the organization so they can speak intelligently about it. It will also help them participate fully on the board as quickly as possible. Rather than sitting on the sidelines for months or even years while they attempt to piece together their roles and responsibilities.
How frustrating is that!
If your organization has never conducted an orientation, consider having every member of the board attend. In fact, some nonprofits host annual orientations for board members.
If you currently hold an orientation, consider having the board development committee and the executive director co-facilitate together. Other key board and staff members should take part in the orientation as well. It is also appropriate to invite current board members to attend all or part of the orientation as a refresher and to meet the new members.
It is beneficial to hold the orientation at your nonprofit’s headquarters, if convenient for board members, to give them a tour of the facility and a sense of the working environment.
The board orientation should have a timed agenda (around 90 minutes), should include food and each new board members should receive a board member manual that includes the following materials:
· mission and vision statements
· organizational history
· bylaws and policies
· strategic plan
· financial summaries
· fundraising plan
· meeting process & calendar
· committee information
· organization chart
· annual report
· marketing materials
· case for support
· board job description and
· board expectation form – this form should be collected at the end of the orientation from each in attendance.
More and more, organizations are coming to realize that successful board orientation can’t be done in a single session. You might consider the potential of having a two-stage orientation process with a less formal component that includes these two simple techniques:
- Board buddies: A veteran board member is assigned to sit next to the new member at their first meeting or calls the new member before and after the meeting to check-in.
- Orientation calls: Veteran board members are assigned to set up calls with a class of new members to review and answer any questions they may have post orientation. This should be done about 2 months into their board service.
This two-phase process can go a long way in helping new board members feel acclimated and welcomed during their first days.
Ultimately, there is no single right way to conduct an orientation. You need to tailor the orientation, so it is manageable and makes sense for your organization. Don’t forget to get feedback from your new board members about their orientation process so you can tweak and improve the process to get the results your organization needs – an engaged and educated board of directors ready to fundraise.
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I hope this helps. What other ideas can you share to help enhance your board orientation process? Let me know in the comments. Sharing is Caring.
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