In the previous blog post titled Board Orientation: 10 Essentials, we discussed helpful tips for using your board orientation time effectively. These tips focused on substantive information that will likely result in your board members feeling informed and engaged. Additionally, by incorporating those ten essentials into a board orientation, organizations can ensure that there is transparency, accountability, and partnership amongst their board members and within the organization. This blog post elaborates on the tenth essential task—self-evaluation and feedback. Without this step, it can be difficult to measure whether your board has absorbed the information presented at orientation and will be able to apply it later in their role as a board member.
One way to measure the impact of your board orientation is to have each board member write down or talk about what they think it means to be a board member. This can fit in perfectly during the self-evaluation and feedback portion of your board orientation and should not be overlooked. While it is almost certain that each board member will have a varied response, taking the time to hear those perspectives will likely result in more effective terms and thus greater success for your organization as a whole.
See the two lists below for examples of a few key takeaways that your board members may share after board orientation, pieced-together from Joan Garry’s Nonprofits are Messy Podcast, Episode 41.
Mindset About Being a Board Member:
Your board position is the equivalent to accepting a job
Your position as a board member is instrumental to the future of the organization
You need to be clear about what you want out of your board service and what your goals are
Your voice is as valuable at your first meeting as it is at your last
Your job is to serve as an ambassador
Your job is to ask…others to join you on the board, donate to the organization, volunteer at events
Your passion for the organization has to be greater than your fear of asking people for money
You don’t have to be rich or know rich people to be a great board member
You are a cheerleader for your staff
You have the ability to influence and have power over the staff, be respectful of it
Mindset About Representing the Organization:
Keep your organizational glasses on at all times
Come prepared to raise your hand to be of help, don’t sit back and wait for someone to ask
Only need 2 good stories and 2 compelling facts to be a 5-star ambassador
Expect your food to get cold at the annual gala because you should be working the room
Share with others your love of being on the board and being able to advocate on behalf of the organization
Nonprofit organizations are fueled by passion—a passion that should be shared among each and every member of your board. Having a common understanding of what being a board member entails and how board members operate as representatives of the organization through self-reflection and feedback are certain to make both your board and organization stronger.