Example Annual Board Orientation Session

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]

Baltimore Impact Hub baltimore.impacthub.net/

Baltimore Impact Hub baltimore.impacthub.net/

And following the session, a Family and Friends Potluck from 1:15 to 2:30pm

Meeting Objectives:

  • 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