Photo by: Ian Schneider

Nonprofit board governance is no simple task.

We often ask a group of people, usually those who feel a sense of passion about the work of the organization, to step into undefined roles, with little training, to somehow do what a board of directors is supposed to do – whatever that is.

In much of my work, whether helping groups with strategic planning, specific development projects or more specific board governance training, I see dedicated, caring people often floundering, wondering what they are supposed to do in their role as a board member. How can they best support the organization? How are they supposed to interact with other board members? With staff (if at all)? With senior management? With funders and all of the other stakeholders involved in the well-being of the organization?

Being a board member is often a very poorly supported role. From the initial recruitment process, through onboarding to actually joining in a board meeting to support and guide the organization, there are few elements in place to make this a smooth and productive process.

And, that needs to change.

Here’s how:

Think of the board member role as you would an employee role.

In an employment scenario, there would be:

  • A job description to clarify what needs to be done in the job, and from that, a list of qualifications and possible personality characteristics would emerge.
  • Then there would be some sort of selection process including interviews that are two-way; the employer would learn about the potential employee and the potential employee would learn about the organization and the position (board member recruitment).
  • Things like work hours would be reviewed (board and committee meeting time expectations).
  • Expectations of the position (what is the actual job?).
  • Possible training needed to do the job (professional development); and likely
  • A performance review process (how is the person doing?).
  • And, there would be an employee handbook to cover the specifics of the organization – its mission, code of conduct, conflict of interest, conflict management, and all of the other pieces that need to be articulated and available to the employee for reference (board member manual).

There are countless resources available to help create or streamline your board member recruitment, onboarding & support methods. These four are my go-to’s for board governance related information:

Governing For Good
The Chartered Professional Accountants Canada
Charity Village

I hope this helps you and your board to be the best that they can be!

Talk soon,


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