October 2018 – Rick Szilagyi, Principal

Just as is done for new employees in for-profit organizations, an onboarding plan is the first step in helping a new board member become a successful contributor to the Board of Directors. The first topic we run into relative to “onboarding,” is the fact that it is NOT the same as “orientation.”  Orientation is deemed to be a small part of onboarding: the opportunity for the new teammate to learn about the company/organization and the “job.” Onboarding is the much longer process of providing the new person the avenue to become a true contributor.

It is an organization’s decision about whether or not a hardcopy handbook or a collection of digital files will provide some of the components necessary for successful onboarding. For nonprofits, some of these documents likely include: bylaws, policies, the original submission and Letter of Determination from the IRS, certificate from the state, etc. The list can get very long, and I’ll leave the articles below to accomplish that. 

Beyond the documents, nothing can replace the human factor that a seasoned board member can provide as an “ambassador” or “buddy” for a new board member. The Executive Director can be another source of support for the new board member. Also, one of the articles below addresses how to think about bringing on someone who has served on a board previously, versus someone completely new to the responsibilities.

  1. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/board-orientation
  2. https://www.pursuant.com/fundraising-strategy/5-steps-effectively-onboarding-new-board-members/
  3. https://www.boardeffect.com/blog/how-to-onboard-a-first-time-nonprofit-board-director-vs-a-seasoned-board-director/

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