You have an orientation in place for new team members at work that allows them to figure out their place in the organization, acclimate quickly, and feel at home. So, why do many nonprofits not do this for new board members? New board members need to be apprised of a lot of information in a relatively short amount of time so they are able to hit the ground running. A welcome process that outlines where you are in key initiatives, who to contact for information, and your current goals allows new members to take ownership of their roles swiftly. Creating an on-boarding process that you use every time you get a new board member also allows you to streamline the process and ensure that you have relayed all information they might need to assist your organization.
They’ll get a formal intro and welcome at the first official board meeting, but don’t wait until them to welcome them! You can provide them with materials and experiences that will help them be successful. The goal is to ensure they feel like part of the team from the very beginning. This not only shows your board’s professionalism, but also helps everyone be on the same page before even getting started.
If possible, a few members of the board and leadership team should get together with new members to welcome them. Simply give them a friendly and familiar face for when they visit or attend that first meeting. Including key team members and a board member or two ensures the new members have someone to turn to on the board. A quick lunch meeting or other informal but informative session can help “officially” launch their involvement and make them feel welcome and at home.
It doesn’t have to be big or elaborate, but a small packet with some branded items (if you use them), new business cards and a contact list for your organization and board’s key members is essential. You want your new members to have information at their fingertips. While some details are easily emailed, a hard copy of this information is often useful, since the new board member can file it away and access it all when needed. A copy of coming events, details about important campaigns and lists of committee members can be helpful here as well.
It seems obvious, but make sure you add new members to not only your own email contact list, but your email service provider and other lists to ensure they get all pertinent information. They should also be added to any online calendars and invited to any meetings so that they can add these items to their schedules. Consider a software tool like Boardable, which makes this a one-stop process.
Include new board members in your next newsletter, on your blog and on your social media sites so that others know you have a new team in place. This also ensures your members feel welcome, since they’ll see evidence in writing. It offers them something special to share on their own social media, too.
Taking the time to welcome your new board members properly ensures that they will be engaged and connected to your organization right away, even if their first “official” meeting is later in the year. Welcome each new class of members the right way with the right information and your entire organization will benefit.
Interested in how to make your board of directors more productive through the effective use of technology? Boardable is a software platform that centralizes all communication between you and your board. Find the best meeting times, securely store all of your documents, archive discussion threads and more—all in one place. Click below to schedule a demo with a member of our Boardable team.