Training helps board members understand your nonprofit’s mission and vision. Learn how to create a nonprofit board member training program.
Nonprofit organizations shouldn’t expect new board recruits to learn the ropes on the go. In order for board members to be engaged and make meaningful contributions to your organization, they require the same level of training you’d give a new staff member. Training for board members proves crucial for them to understand your nonprofit’s mission, vision, and values. Read on to learn how to create a nonprofit board training program.
Why Does Your Nonprofit Need a Board Member Training Program?
Even if your new members have served on nonprofit boards before and understand board governance, nonprofits are unique based on industry and internal operations. No two boards operate the same way.
You also may recruit industry leaders with helpful knowledge and connections who have never before served on a board. No matter the scenario, a lack of proper training can leave new board members feeling overwhelmed. By preparing your board members with extensive training, they’ll be happier and ready to serve sooner.
Tools to Boost Board Member Training
You’ve already established a methodology and tools for training and developing employees within your organization. The same methods and tools can be used to train board members.
Offer online board development training for nonprofits to allow board members to learn on their own time. A learning management system (LMS) tracks training to provide greater visibility into the progress of new members and monitor continuing education for senior board members.
How To Make an Effective Nonprofit Board Member Training Program
A comprehensive nonprofit board training program equips the new board members with the critical skills needed to support your organization. Use the following 5 steps to train board members.
1. Create a Standard Onboarding Process
A standard onboarding process helps introduce new recruits to the board and your organization, making them feel comfortable and ready to participate from day one. Start with a new board member orientation. The onboarding process should outline what the new board members need to learn to contribute to the organization’s goals. For maximum output, make the onboarding process fun and efficient.
2. Build a Welcome Packet
As soon as you appoint a new board member, you should send them a welcome packet to review before their first meeting. Your welcome packet can be digital, physical, or both, and should include:
- Organization background, history, and accomplishments
- List of the current board members, key staff, and committees
- Roles and responsibilities of the board directors
- Financial reports, including the current year’s budget
- Calendar of upcoming meetings and events
- Audit reports, bylaws, and amendment rules and procedures
- Previous board meeting minutes
3. Introduce Your Mentors (Experienced Board Members)
Incorporate existing members into your new board member training program. Build a mentorship program, and pair your new recruits with the experienced board members who exemplify the standards you want to maintain in your organization. In addition to new board members learning the ropes quicker, this helps build camaraderie within your board.
4. Offer Fundraising Strategies to New Board Members
Every nonprofit organization works extremely hard to raise sufficient funds to maintain its operations. That’s why fundraising strategies are unique concepts that should be taught to all new board recruits. Share what fundraising strategies have worked best for your organization in the past and empower new recruits to consider new strategies to serve the organization in the future.
5. Open Communication Channels
The success of your nonprofit board training program hinges on excellent communication. Create open communication channels so new members can ask questions. Continuously check in with your new board members to see if they’re satisfied with the level of training they’ve received or would like more. Conduct training on a regular basis to keep board members engaged and knowledgeable.
What Changed for Boards in 2021?
Board Member Training Best Practices
For your board member training to remain effective, consider adopting these best practices:
- Include the board handbook, best board management practices, and the organization’s strategic plan.
- Consider board members’ strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles to customize training programs.
- Start training with a robust board member orientation.
- Conduct ongoing board training to keep members engaged and ready to fulfill their duties and responsibilities.
Keep Board Members Engaged
Keeping board members engaged helps ensure they’ll fulfill their term obligations and continue to contribute to your organization’s success. An ongoing training program helps. Other ways to boost engagement include keeping board meetings on task, offering opportunities for socializing or upskilling, and recognizing their commitment with appreciation often.
Power Your Training Program With OnBoard
A board member training program doesn’t have to be complex to make an impact. Follow the steps above to build a comprehensive and custom board member training program that impacts your organization.
Level up your training program with OnBoard’s board management software. Featuring an unlimited cloud-based resource center, members can access meeting minutes, upcoming agendas, and board training documents. Secure chat and annotation features let them ask questions as soon as they arise. When equipped with the proper tools, board members achieve more.
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