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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

LESSON 34 - Envision Your Best Board Member Orientation Ever

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Mike Batts is our guest blogger this week for the first of seven lessons in "Part 11: Boards That Lead and Boards That Read.”

LESSON 34 OF 40 - Envision Your Best Board Member Orientation Ever
Equip new board members to serve from day one.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 34, we focus on having an excellent new board member orientation process.  With board members coming and going in any ministry, the need to provide proper orientation for new board members is an ongoing, continuous responsibility.  Done well, the orientation process can help board members understand key issues like the history and culture of the organization, their legal duties and responsibilities, and relevant information about the organization’s operations and activities.

A well-executed board member orientation process prepares new board members to assume their new roles with confidence. The lack of a good board member orientation process not only can have the opposite effect, it can drag down the performance of the board as a whole—requiring new members to ask fundamental questions to remedy their ignorance of basic matters.

Lesson 34 provides practical and basic insights for ministry leaders who want to implement a great orientation process for their new board members. It is very much worth the 15 minutes it takes to read it!

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 34, pages 174-179: 
I found this quote from Lesson 34 to be startling in its clarity and bluntness:

“The quality of the orientation process
is a reflection of the quality of the board and the ministry.”


It should come as no surprise to any astute reader that having an excellent new board member orientation process is a good idea.  And maybe the reasons seem obvious.  

But I have learned something about a related topic that may not be so obvious. I was struck recently by several sources in the HR arena that have shared perspectives on an analogous issue—new employee onboarding. Numerous HR sources are now saying that one of the most powerful tools for employee engagement and retention is a quality onboarding process.  

As an example, in the article, “Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Good Onboarding,” by Arlene Hirsch and published by the Society for Human Resource Management on August 10, 2017, the author cites this recent research:

“New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years [and] organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50 percent greater new-hire productivity.” Onboarding is defined essentially as properly preparing a new employee for his/her job with information and training.

If excellent employee onboarding leads to such dramatic differences in employee loyalty and performance, it would seem intuitive that an excellent board member onboarding process could have a similar effect. Great board member orientation is one of those “win-win” scenarios we all look for. So, let’s do it! 


Mike Batts is the president and managing partner of Batts Morrison Wales & Lee, a national CPA firm dedicated exclusively to serving churches, ministries, and other nonprofit organizations and their affiliates across the United States through audit and assurance, tax, and advisory services. Click here to visit the firm’s website.  Batts is also the author of Board Member Orientation: The Concise and Complete Guide to Nonprofit Board Service (read a review here), and his latest book, Nonprofit Financial Oversight: The Concise and Complete Guide for Boards and Finance Committees

• Evaluate the quality of your ministry’s new board member orientation process.
• Do what it takes to make it excellent!


On July 18, 2018, watch for the commentary by Danny de Armas on Lesson 35, "Is Your Board Color-Blind? What color is your boardroom flag?"

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