You have systems in place at work for onboarding new employees and volunteers, but what about your new nonprofit board members? According to the Society of Human Resource Managers, creating a comprehensive onboarding process is one of the best ways to ensure your new hires are successful. Since you are already working with stellar professionals on your board, creating an onboarding program at your nonprofit is relatively simple. You just need to help them fit in swiftly and easily with the rest of the team.
Take some time to set up an official process and commit to it. This approach benefits your organization in several important ways. First, you can be sure that every new board member has all of the information and details they need to succeed. Next, you can be sure that your existing team knows their role in welcoming and guiding newcomers. Lastly, a written policy that is applied equally to all ensures that all new members get the same positive experience, regardless of who they are.
Fill a three-ring binder with all the information a new board member might need to feel comfortable and welcomed. Sections containing the official board agreements, organization bylaws, and most recent annual report allow the new member to get oriented quickly.
You should also include contact information for other members, a list of committees, and your most recent newsletter. This allows the new member to find anything they need in one place and to get acclimated quickly. To save time, make several of these at once and just update the time-sensitive details when you have a new arrival.
Choose an existing, continuing board member to help each new arrival settle in. Ideally, this person will meet with the new member, touch base before meetings, and follow up afterward. This is a good assignment for someone who is comfortable and outgoing. Hopefully, the existing member will enjoy the process as well. RELATED: What Do You Bring to the (Board) Table?
Invite each member to your main facility for a brief visit. A small welcome brunch or meeting goes a long way towards making them feel comfortable. Meeting on-site before their first board session helps in a variety of ways. They can tour the facility, see the board room, meet staff members and volunteers, and see your team in action. There is a lot to learn when you agree to serve, so an informal meeting allows your new arrivals to feel ready for their first board session. Stick to under two hours and provide each new member with their book or binder of information at this time.
If your board has traditions, inside jokes, lingo, or other pertinent details, make sure your new members are aware of the lexicon and traditions. Similarly, if you have donors with specific preferences or strong personalities, your new board member should know the details so they are not surprised.
Creating an onboarding process allows you to get your new board members up to speed. This is essential if your new arrival is taking on a key responsibility or role. The more useful information you can provide in the beginning, the more welcome your new member feels. He or she will fit in swiftly and be able to get to work helping your organization right away.
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