Thinking about what an annual board orientation and training session might look like for your board?
Board Orientation Planning Tips for Executive Directors and Board Members:
- Every time a new member joins the board, you are working with a new team. Take time to help people get to know each other and start establishing trust.
- Over the course of the session, you’ll want to address the unspoken why am I here questions. These questions include where am I, why was I invited to this board, who are the rest of these people, what do they expect from me, can I really help. Up front and in the first few minutes, you’ll want to answer when do we eat, where’s the bathroom, what’s the wifi code.
- Board members need to be involved in the big picture strategy issues. You want them to focus on mission, vision, direction. In most board meetings, and certainly during a skill development and orientation session, include a time for them to discuss and work through an question affecting where the organization is headed, the critical path ahead.
- The purpose of providing a program experience is to do something together that connects, reflects, or practices some piece of the program work of the organization.
Here’s a sample meeting structure template to consider and adapt to make your own:
Board Development & Orientation Session
Saturday — 10 to 1 — at [Your Organization]
And following the session, a Family and Friends Potluck from 1:15 to 2:30pm
- Welcome new board members.
- Review organizational essentials.
- Review roles and responsibilities.
- Build or refresh a specific board skill and develop tangible skills for your board service.
- Engage in a strategy discussion on [a current big picture and current question].
- Have a program experience [i.e. for a community arts agency, Create a collaborative artifact in the organization’s art studio.]
10 to 10:15 Welcome and Intros and Agenda Review
10:15 to 10:30 Organizational Identity Review
Mission, Vision, Programs, Key Partnerships, Funding Sources
10:30 to 11:00 Program Team Activity [In the case of a community arts organization we did an Artmaking Collaboration that was Interactive, creates an artwork-or maybe multiples. Ideally directed by program staff.]
11:00 to 11:15 Reflection on Activity
=> Collaboration, roles & responsibilities, teamwork, combining resources and communication, quality and community. Learning about the organization’s program work.
11:15 to 11:30 Board Roles & Responsibilities
- In general: Why have a board, bd vs. staff articles and worksheets
- Specifically: Discussion of [Organization’s] Board practices and culture; [#] meetings annually, plus annual board orientation and development; Our committees: [i.e. Finance, Development & Engagement, Governance, ExCom]; Giving expectation of board members: [100% giving, annual pledges]
11:45 to 12:45 Skills Workshop [i.e. Finance Basics for Boards] or Strategy Discussion
12:45 to 1:00 Wrap and Reflection
1:15 to 2:30 Family and Friends Potluck