Monday, April 2, 2012

Hooey Alerts!

In recent weeks, we’ve been discussing the best practices for the four phases of board member recruitment (cultivation, recruitment, orientation and engagement).

Michael E. Batts has recently written a helpful resource on this subject, Board Member Orientation: The Concise and Complete Guide to Nonprofit Board Service. (Order from ECFA.)

In the book, Batts mentions this humorous caveat for readers: “When nonprofit board members and leaders do seek information about the world of nonprofit board governance, one unfortunate result is that the information they receive is often wrong. Occasionally in this book, I have inserted ‘Hooey Alerts!’ to warn the reader of misinformation that is commonly related to the topic at hand.”

His book lists 10 subjects that should be covered in an orientation process: Legal Authority & Responsibility, Proper Role of the Board, Board Committees, Risk Management, Financial Matters, Governing & Policy Documents, Liability of Board Members, Understanding, Evaluating and Protecting Mission, Board Meeting Dynamics, and Organization-Specific Information.

In addition, I ask boards if they can answer “Strongly Agree” to these five statements:

#1. We have a written New Board Member Orientation process—and it’s clear who is responsible for bringing new members up-to-speed.
#2. We have an up-to-date New Board Member Orientation Notebook.
#3. After the orientation, our new board members have a good grasp of our Mission, Vision, Core Values, and strategic planning process—and can articulate our organization’s answers to The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization (the book and process by Peter Drucker).
#4. Our orientation process includes required reading of at least one governance book, such as The Imperfect Board Member, by Jim Brown, or Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask, by Ram Charan.
#5. Our orientation process involves at least 5 to 10 hours of orientation, over a period of several months, and concludes with a written or online feedback survey. We also focus on how our board, as a team, spiritually discerns God's direction for our ministry.

Question: How does your orientation process measure up?  Would anyone issue a “Hooey Alert!” for your new board member orientation?

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