How do organizations orient and engage new board members?
A. Make sure that there is an effective board orientation process in place. If the organization is recruiting people new to board service particularly if they new to the nonprofit sector it is important to give candidates an orientation to governance, to nonprofit structures and processes, and to the guidelines for effective meetings. In addition to an on-site tour of the facility and programs, board members typically receive materials such as:
- Budget and audits
- Annual report
- Organizational history
- Strategic plan
- Media kit
B. Have an assignment or clearly defined role ready for each new board member. Such an assignment may mean joining a standing committee or task force, or taking personal responsibility for an individual task that feeds back to a board committee or to the full board.
Provide support for new board members
A. Recruit people in multiples. Pairs are ideal, especially when adding people who bring diversity, new experience or professional networks or backgrounds to the current board. For example, when moving from a grassroots board to more of a governance board, invite two people who have training and experience with active governing boards who can support each other in helping the current board move to the next phase.
B. Some boards assign a member who has been on the board awhile to mentor the new member. This can also be a good role for outgoing board members who have been particularly effective leaders.