The same steps used to onboard new managers and senior staff can be applied to new members of a board of directors. Orientation will shorten the learning curve and speed-up how soon you receive invaluable advice about issues facing your organization.
Here are six steps to help onboard a new board member:
- Assign a board buddy or coach. It can be another board member or a senior member of your staff. Someone they can go to in addition to the executive director to have their questions answered.
- Have them visit your office and where services are delivered. This can happen early in the recruitment process or soon after they have joined the board. It is important for board members to understand first-hand what the organization is doing and the impact on the constituents.
- Provide recommendations on educational events. As a consultant on nonprofit governance I constantly stress to my clients, and the executive directors of the boards I serve on, the need to better and constantly educate their board. For new and long-serving board members any information gained about the issues facing your organization and your specific nonprofit focus as well as the constituents you serve is invaluable.
- Provide a list of books, publications, and websites relevant to your organization and your specific nonprofit focus as well as the constituents you serve.
- Provide a Board Manual. The board manual should include all the information a board member may need to refer to from time to time. Don”t assume the information provided during the recruiting process been retained or organized in one place. In a future post I will discuss what information should go in the board manual.
- Host a reception to introduce the new board member to the other members and key staff. This gets the relationship off to a good start and once again will speed up how soon you will receive invaluable advice.
If you have served on a board of directors how were you oriented? What type of orientation would you like to see upon joining a board of directors?
Susan C. Hammond, principal of scHammond Advisors, consults with nonprofits on board governance, strategic planning, improving financial intelligence, and the formation of advisory boards or councils. She is an advisor, coach, consultant and author. She previously served as the CFO for a museum and other nonprofit organizations. Susan recently published the Advisory Board Kit: A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing an Advisory Board.
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