pexels-photo-1157859Your board is both legally and ethically responsible for the good governance and objective oversight of your nonprofit. The more engaged your individual members are, the more likely it is that they will fulfil their role and responsibilities well.

The following steps will help you build a stronger, more informed board that’s ready and willing to be actively involved in advancing your mission.


Your board needs members that know what is expected of them in their role, so even if they have served on a board in the past, you still need to bring them up to speed on their duties and role within your organisation.

Host an orientation session before your new board’s first meeting. Go over your nonprofit’s mission, history, accomplishments, challenges, and future plans. Give members copies of relevant information that they need to know to fulfil their fiduciary duties.

Each board member should be presented with copies of your current and prior budgets, the board’s bylaws and policies, past minutes of meetings, board committee information, contact information for the leadership of your board and committees, copies of your nonprofit’s comprehensive strategic plans. It’s also good for your members to have a list of your NFP’s future goals, current needs, and any additional information relevant to proposals and actions that are currently before the board or its committees.

Follow-up Training

The professional development of your board doesn’t end with onboarding. All members need to be fully informed and competent to make decisions and take actions on a host of wide-ranging issues. Some of the most common include legal compliance and regulatory issues, to risk management, fundraising and a host of other activities that impact your NFP’s finances and its ability to serve its community.

To be prepared, your board will need regular, ongoing training throughout their tenure. Look for ways to reduce the financial burden on your board by partnering with third parties to offer free, and low-cost training opportunity throughout the year to keep your board’s skills up to date.

Retreats and Social Events

To be effective in their roles, your board members must feel free to openly discuss and debate the topics and matters that will come before them. Encourage your board to develop strong relationships of mutual trust and respect, build rapport and create a strong fraternal bond that encourages open communication and spirited dialogue.

Board retreats are a great way to let your board members socialise while also allowing them to focus on a specific subject or area. Encourage informal get-togethers, such as attending dinner parties at a board member or key donor’s house. Just gathering at a local pub for drinks after your next meeting, can help your board build that spirit of community and camaraderie that will encourage each member to be a more active participant.

Build a Solid Governance Structure

Reduce conflict, get your board members on the same page, and help them set realistic budgets and other goals by constructing a strong governance structure. Your board needs to develop bylaws and policies that will help them improve their ability to govern.

When setting their policies, they should attempt to anticipate uncertainty, and create plans and processes that will allow them to manage during uncertain times.

Use Committees to Divide and Conquer the Workload

Boards are most productive when they divide the workload and have individual members specialise in becoming knowledgeable about and developing plans and policies for specific areas of the board’s business. Help your individual board members be good stewards by pairing them with support staff that have specific knowledge and skills for particular departments. For example, if you have board members that are effective at raising funds, appoint them to the appropriate committee, pairing them with staff that are already heavily involved with your fundraising and development activities.

To keep everyone fully informed, boards should prepare a committee report on their department’s activities and plans at the next board meeting.

Help Your Board Prepare for Meetings in Advance

It’s difficult to be fully involved if you aren’t fully informed. Helping your members to be fully prepared before the meetings occur will increase both their engagement and productivity.

Set the agenda for your board meetings in advance. Provide a copy of the agenda, along with all the materials that your board members need to be knowledgeable about each item on the agenda, such as a copy of the budget, or other proposal, and additional supplemental information.

Ideally, your members should have all the materials and other information that they need to discuss the items on the agenda at least one to two weeks in advance. Send text alerts, and email reminders a few days in advance of the meeting to make sure that all your board knows about the meeting well in advance.

Free Training

Want more tips and tricks to ramp up your board’s engagement? Register for this free webinar, Building A Kickass Board: Recognising ways you can optimise your board’s radness to be presented on Aug 16, 2018.