5 Steps to Effectively Onboarding New Board Members

Onboarding a new board member starts them off on the right foot with board service and sets the tone for a great tenure. They can start making an impact sooner, and it sets them—and the whole board —up for success.  While it might be an obvious statement, it’s important to remember that the overall effectiveness of a board member is directly connected with how intentional we are with integrating them into our organization.

If you want to maximize your opportunity to onboard a new board member, here are five important steps to consider:

Step 1: Give them a 1:1 orientation. 

Ideally, this is done with the board chair and the CEO or ED at the organization’s offices. It includes a tour, meeting the staff, and reviewing the board contract.

Step #2: Match them with a board buddy. 

Match your new board member with a seasoned member to help them adjust to the new role. Not only does this help your new board member get up to speed faster and eliminate feelings of intimidation being the new kid on the block, but it also satisfies one of board members’ most common reasons for joining a board: socializing and networking with peers.

Step #3: Provide them with a board handbook. 

A comprehensive board handbook is a great tool to educate your members about the organization and empower them to serve. Some core components to include:

  • Organizational information (case statement, current newsletter, staff roster, program overview, development plan, bylaws and budget)
  • Board information (board contract, board roster, meeting schedule, current strategic plan, committee overview, chairs and members)
  • Meeting materials (schedule of meetings, agendas, and minutes)

Step #4: Host a welcome reception. 

If you’ve got a new slate of board members joining at once, this is a great way to introduce them to the rest of the board, staff, donors, clients, and community leaders.

Step #5: Announce it publicly. 

Send a press release announcing your new board members to your local newspaper and business journal. Most have an “On the Move” section, and this is a simple, free way to get publicity for your organization and your new board member.

Taking these steps will make a tremendous difference for your new board members. They will appreciate your efforts to get them acclimated to the board and their new responsibilities. And you’ll notice the difference when they are quickly making a marked difference for your organization and mission.

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