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Proper Orientation for New Board Members

Congratulations. Your Governance committee identified qualified candidates for election to the Board. There are three vacancies, so at the Annual Meeting there will be three candidates placed in nomination before the membership. So now it’s done and we’re so proud: Some new folks to inject some energy to governance at our nonprofit.
Time now to conduct the orientation. Which of course has been planned in advance. A board manual is ready containing bylaws, the past year’s minutes, an annual report and most recent audited financial statements. And of course a board member job description.
So who will conduct the orientation? The executive director and other senior staff should be there. The chair of the board or chair of the governance committee should officiate. With an agenda. And we want the Treasurer and/or chair of the Finance Committee to be present. At a breakfast or lunch gathering. The meal and meeting should take no longer than two hours. There may be video to show. We might take a look at the nonprofit website on a big screen. And what are the hot issues we’re dealing with.
This way our new folks won’t feel they’re operating in a vacuum. Self-orientation can be so hit-or-miss. Encouraging some dialogue with real give-and-take helps make key points register. And gives our new members an opportunity to show us why we have such confidence in them.
This way we’re ready for business. Sure, there will likely still be questions to get clarification on matters that might still be a bit hazy. But this is how we learn. And fulfill our legal and fiduciary duties.

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