Onboarding nonprofit board members is the process of integrating a new Board member into an organization and the Board of Directors. In this blog post, you will learn more about preparing for Board onboarding, orienting Board members and evaluating the onboarding process.
Pre-Onboarding Prep for Nonprofit Board Members
Assigning an onboarding committee
The onboarding committee of the Board is the group of Board members responsible for coordinating all aspects of Board member onboarding and orientation. This committee should consist of a mix of executive committee members and experienced members who have been on the Board for two or more years. This balance of leadership and experience will support a strong orientation and onboarding process.
Developing an onboarding plan
The onboarding plan should involve the initial orientation and follow-up activities to support new Board members in learning more about the organization and the expectations of their role. Follow-up activities may include a mentoring process, or simply regular contact with new members by a member of the onboarding committee.
Gathering and organizing materials
The onboarding process should involve materials and a handbook for new members. This is information that they can access at any point to refamiliarize or clarify any details necessary. Most commonly, the handbook is either offered as a binder or folder, or an online resource in a shared online drive. Materials should include compliance documents, including a copy of the organization’s 501c3, Articles of Incorporation, audited financial statements (if applicable), current budget and any other relevant operational documents of the organization.
The handbook should also include information about the organization, their programs/activities and outcomes. This may be in the form of an annual report or other marketing materials, program reports, or documents specific to the organization.
Onboarding Nonprofit Board Members: Orientation Day
Scheduling the orientation
Orientation should be scheduled to accommodate new Board members whenever possible. Utilizing tools like Doodle or Calendly can help leadership identify the best dates and times for orientation.
Conducting the orientation
Orientation should be informative, but it should also be fun! Remember, this is oftentimes the first real taste of the organization Board members will get. Orientation is an opportunity to get to know the Board members, just as much as it is an opportunity for them to know the organization.
Reviewing the organization’s mission and goals
It is important to make sure that orientation includes a strong focus on the organization’s mission and goals. Board members need to understand the purpose for which the organization exists, as well as the motivation behind this purpose. This will help to prepare them to be ambassadors for the organization.
Introducing Board members and staff
When possible, orientation is a great opportunity to introduce Board members to staff. For large organizations, this may mean introduction to leadership staff and those that Board members may interact with the most. For small organizations, this may include the full staff.
Onboarding Nonprofit Board Members: Training
Overview of the training program and its importance
The orientation should follow an agenda that includes sharing information about the organization from a regulatory and compliance perspective. Additionally, orientation should inform the Board members about the organization and its mission and goals. Finally, orientation should also include details about the responsibilities and expectations of Board members.
Providing training on the organization’s programs and services
The orientation program should include a review of the organization’s programs and services, as well as how they operate and how they are funded. When possible, a tour of the organization’s facilities or a program will help new Board members relate to the organization’s activities.
Providing training on governance and leadership
A strong orientation will also educate new Board members on their responsibilities . Defining and explaining how Board members support governance will set them up to be strong leaders.
Providing training on legal and ethical responsibilities
Board members should be familiar with their duties to uphold the legal and ethical integrity of the organization. New Board members should be educated on the duties of care, loyalty and obedience.
Providing training on fundraising and financial management
Orientation should also include training on financial management and the responsibility and expectations of the Board as it pertains to fundraising. Board members should be provided with an annual budget and given a clear expectation of how the organization’s funds are managed. Expectations for fundraising should be provided at orientation and should be clear. Additional support for fundraising responsibilities should be provided on an ongoing basis.
Onboarding Nonprofit Board Members: Integration and Engagement
Facilitating integration with the Board and committees
New Board members should be provided with an overview of the committees of the Board. All Board members should participate in at least one committee. New Board members may be offered the opportunity to volunteer for a committee or may be steered to a committee identified by leadership.
Encouraging engagement in the organization’s activities
Orientation is the best time to provide clear expectations for Board involvement in organizational activities. This includes expectations surrounding fundraising activities, as well as other activities including program or promotional activities.
Providing opportunities for socializing and networking
New Board members should be provided with contact and biographical information for the full Board of Directors. They should be encouraged to connect with Board members to better familiarize themselves with the role of Board member for the organization. When possible, a mentor relationship may be utilized to connect a senior Board member with a new Board member.
Onboarding Nonprofit Board Members: Evaluation and Feedback
Conducting evaluation of the onboarding process
The onboarding committee should lead the process of evaluating the onboarding process. It is critical that this evaluation involve feedback from new Board members that participated in the process to assure that onboarding goals were met. The evaluation should include whether the process was informative, made new Board members feel welcomed and included, and also to assess any gaps in the process.
Obtaining feedback from nonprofit Board members
Strong Board members are engaged Board members. The onboarding process is the best time to begin a strong, engaged relationship with new Board members. Board members should be asked for feedback regularly. This includes feedback regarding the onboarding process, but also ongoing feedback regarding their experience, their thoughts on organizational operations and how they feel they can best support the organization and its goals.
Making improvements to the nonprofit onboarding process
The onboarding committee should collect and analyze all feedback on the onboarding process. Adjustments should be made and documented to impact future onboarding processes to provide continuous improvement.
Onboarding nonprofit Board members should be informative, dynamic and continuous. It is important to make sure Board members are receiving the information necessary to help them support the governance of the organization. Moreover, it is important to help Board members feel connected to the organization.
Importance of onboarding nonprofit Board members
Board members who are engaged are more likely to provide meaningful and long-term benefit to the organization. The onboarding process is the first step in cultivating engaged and involved Board members.
Why you should choose Capital CFO+ to help implement a comprehensive onboarding process
Capital CFO+ provides support to nonprofit Boards and leaders to help design, facilitate and implement Board onboarding processes. We take the guesswork out of what information should be provided, and we guide a dynamic onboarding process that cultivates strong Board members.
About Capital CFO+
Capital CFO+ LLC is based in Saratoga Springs, New York, providing bookkeeping, accounting, and CFO services. Capital CFO+ helps small firms access the economies of scale, efficiency, and expertise that large companies enjoy. Visit Pearl, our branch manager, at capitalcfollc.com or LinkedIn for more information.