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The Board Orientation – A critical fiduciary element that is sometimes forgotten

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Imagine getting hired for a job where you had no previous experience and no previous training but had all the responsibilities that came with it? Many nonprofit Boards neither have the time or tools to train their Board members properly. Why is the Board orientation important?

As a fiduciary of the organization, a Board member has the duties of care, loyalty and obedience as outlined in state statutes. The importance of an orientation is to help the Board fulfill the duties they have been entrusted with by the members of your organization.

  • The Duty of Obedience…forbids acts outside the scope of corporate powers. 
  • The Duty of Loyalty…dictates that officers and directors must act in good faith.
  • The Duty of Care…requires directors and officers to be diligent and prudent in managing the organization’s affairs. 

How can a Board member effectively be “diligent and prudent in managing the organization’s affairs”, if they were not properly trained? A Board Orientation should include the following training elements:

  • Governance Purpose
  • Fiduciary Duties
  • Relations of Board, Committees, Staff
  • Governing Documents 
  • Strategic Direction 
  • Culture of Trust
  • Financial Responsibilities
  • Risk Awareness

In addition to the topics above, the Board should be aware and knowledgeable of the organization’s governing documents, policies and procedures, articles of incorporation, budgets, strategic plan and other key documents. Createa Board portal with all of these documents so they are up-to-date and easily accessible.

An orientation and access to information helps to keep your Board informed as it makes strategic decisions. This should be an annual practice to inform new Board members but to also re-acquaint your seasoned individuals. For the best board experience, an annual orientation is important. Click on this link for the PowerPoint – Board Orientation PowerPoint Final (click here).