Orienting New Members to Boards of Directors

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

Comprehensive, practical book on Boards by Carter McNamara
Developing, Operating and Restoring Your Nonprofit Board - Book Cover

Board orientation is intended to prepare new board members for their board role in the organization. Orientation is also extremely useful for all members to ensure they are operating from the same "script." Whether done only with new members or with the entire board, orientation is a strong team-building activity that should be conducted once a year, either before a regular board meeting or during the retreat -- particularly after new board members have been recruited.

1. The board chair and the chief executive typically facilitate the orientation session.

2. Ensure introductions and consider using name tags.

3. Review several topics, including:
- the Board Manual (see "Board Manual Index")
- mission, vision and values of the organization
- some the organization's history
- roles and responsibilities of the board and the staff
- administrative calendar which schedules major activities of the board
- organizational chart, including the list of current and planned committees
- about how the board conducts meetings, including relevant actions from the
Roberts' Rules of Order

4. Ensure adequate time for questions and answers.

5. Consider assigning a "buddy," or current board member to help orient a new board member.

6. Involve new members as soon as possible in relevant committees by asking new members to consider membership on a current or new committees.


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