When you join a board, you should receive training that empowers you to be a full participant in board meetings. When you go through board orientation, you should receive an overview of the organization, its finances, its mission, its expectations for you, and any related documentation.
You should get an overview of the organization’s current programming and client base. Plus, you should be familiar with the services it provides, funding, and measurable impact.
You should receive a copy of the approved budget, a sample of a monthly financial statement, and instructions on how to read the financial statement. Also, you should view the most recent CPA audit if applicable, past financial statements, and a copy of the latest IRS Form 990.
Form 990 provides an overview of organizations’ activities, governance, and detailed financial information.
Do you know the mission of your organization? If not, this is your chance to learn. What’s its history? How did the mission develop? Why? What does this mean in practical terms?
The nonprofit should lay out what they expect from you and the other board members. You need to know how often the board meets. What’s the board’s role as ambassadors to the community?
What talking points should you know and reference when the nonprofit is brought up? What are your fundraising responsibilities? Do you need to make financial contributions? Volunteer your time? What legal responsibilities do you have?
Finally, you should receive articles of incorporation, bylaws, and samples of past meeting minutes.
All of this information helps bring you up to speed on what your organization is doing, how it’s developed over the years, and how it plans to move forward. You’ll be a more effective board member with this information at your fingertips.
The role of a board of directors is to:
- Take a strategic approach
- Understand programming
- Ask for measurable results
- Oversee financial visibility
- Support fundraising
Try asking the following questions to generate a robust discussion with the board.
- Do we have a three-year plan? A five-year plan? Are we financially and operationally prepared for this future vision?
- How do we measure the impact of our organization? Is this the best way?
- What is our most significant financial risk? Are we doing anything to address and reduce it?
- How does our financial situation compare with similar organizations? Based on what benchmarks?
A board of directors can be a powerful asset for its nonprofit. But, it all starts with a successful board orientation for each director. Make sure you receive each of the five items listed above so you can serve your nonprofit fully.
Have questions about your board orientation? Let’s talk!