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Alex Comfort, CFRE

Yay!  We have new board of directors members.  Let’s presume we did a 21st century process to acquire them.  (WE DID NOT JUST HAVE OUTGOING MEMBERS NOMINATE THEM!)  

  1. We created a task force that included: the board chair, interested members, executive director, and development director.
  2. We collected emailed suggestions from everyone with the reasons/rationale for recommending the individual.
  3. We carefully selected suggested nominees with no one saying “No” for someone else.
  4. We visited the top selections in order until we reached our needed number.

So you have them.  Good!  It never gets any better than this.  Now, let’s get them oriented! They will give you a full day if you ask them.  So ask them for a full day.

Who needs to be there:  board chair, treasurer, clerk, others interested; executive director; director of development; program staff head(s); others who “tell the story” of your agency; and, of course, every new board member.

Beforehand:  don’t downplay this and fritter away time with “fluff.”  Work hard and efficiently.  Respect their time.


9am – Introduction.  Each person gives their story in 5 minutes or less.  Probe why they are there.

9:45 – 10:00.  The Board member’s fiduciary responsibility.  It means raising the money as well as watching over how the money is spent.

10am -Program hour.  Get two clients to tell their story. Then let the program staff explain what you do, what your challenges are, how they need to grow their efforts.  Discuss successes and what your entire program does.  Take a second hour if you need it.

11am – the budget and meeting financial reports.  Make sure they know debts, endowment, challenges, funding mix, and what the state of the organization is.

11:30 – Executive Director’s comments on the mission of the organization.

12:15 - Lunch

1:00 – The fundraising program.  Director of Development explains how it is done.  Check out this resource.  Discussion.  Executive director explains their role in fundraising.

2:00 – Explain how board meetings are conducted.  If you have committee reports sent out for a “Consent Agenda” (as you should) which requires that all board members read them ahead of time so you can just vote consent at the meeting, then explain that process.

2:45 – Explain the committee system and ask them to sign up for at least one committee.  (Note: Do not allow your fundraising or development committee to be a “committee of the whole.”  Even if you have only one member, having one engaged member is better than including an entire unengaged board.)

3:30 – Wrap-up by Board Chair.  Explain the difference between “owning the non-profit” and “micro-managing.”  Note how board members report to the Board Chair, not the Executive Director.  

4:15 – End of orientation.

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