Recruit and Retain a Strong Nonprofit Board of Directors in 2014 – Step 3

 Step 3 -Train to get your board engaged.

Training your board, with the Executive Director, is a critical step to ensuring knowledgeable, beneficial and engaged board members; in essence… a good board.  Training should include the following, but may include other topics as determined by your board’s and organization’s needs.   You can watch a short video on Board Training HERE.

Focusing on the below examples of training topics can lead to a strong board.

  1. Educate your board members on the organization.  All staff, voluntary (which includes the board) and paid, should know their organization well.  It is their organization!  Make sure that they tell the same story.  Help them know what to say when someone in the community asks them where they work or volunteer.  Actually give them the words to use so that they will provide a consistent message to the world.  Help them be your organization’s champions!


  1. Identify board strengths.    Use a resource such as Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath or Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie to help each of your current board members know their individual strengths.  This will help your board, individually and as a group, know what they have to offer the organization as well as what additional strengths are needed on the board.


  1. Ensure your board members know their ‘roles’ and understand how their role differs from the role of the executive director.    It is critical for the board to know what is expected of them for your particular board and organization.  There will be over-riding themes that all nonprofit boards should follow, such as ‘board governs, executive director manages’; but there will also be some specific training needs for your particular organization.  For example, your board may require each board member to organize one fundraising ‘giving circle’ event.  You would want to train the board on the expectations of organizing a giving circle fundraiser.  For more information on giving circles, check out the Greenlights organization.


  1. Ensure your board members know the board expectations.  Share data on how and where these expectations come from. For example, charter schools may have requirements as a result of Federal, State and City mandates surrounding the formation of charter schools or organizations working with children may have to abide by certain legal mandates.


  1. Train the board in the areas of fundraising, marketing, community engagement/partnerships as well as strategic planning (basic, if needed) and meeting organization/setting agendas.  It is important that all board members have, at minimum, a basic knowledge of the above areas.  Your board members may have specific skills, knowledge and talent in one or more of these areas.  If you have experts in any of these areas, you can always ask them to conduct the training on those topics!


Help your board be as educated and knowledgeable as possible.  This will help create an engaged and strong board.  I look forward to speaking with you next time when we discuss the final phase of  recruiting and retaining the right board= Step 4 – Manage.

If you would like to read the previous installments of Recruiting and Retaining the Right Board Members for your Board, please go to Introduction, Step 1-Assess and Step 2-Plan.


Photo credit to: Microsoft Office Clip Art

Jeanne Ward is a Consultant and Personal Strategist who brings her knowledge of psychology, strategy and personal fulfillment to her current work. Jeanne started her career by helping mentally ill inmates to ‘get their lives back on track’ as they integrated back into society from jail in NYC. She leveraged this experience with a Social Work degree to manage teams who were supporting people trying to move back into the workforce. She later lived in Atlanta, GA and Frankfurt, Germany where she began consulting with nonprofit organizations to guide them on their strategy, volunteer development, and organizational development as well as to support the development of their leaders and board of directors. After the jolt of a divorce, Jeanne found herself doing a lot of soul-searching. Digging deep, she arrived at a new-found appreciation for herself and the world around her. This journey taught her that when we start with improving ourselves, the benefits multiply. Jeanne realized that her strengths of strategic thinking, relationship building, and implementation planning could be combined into her ongoing passion of personal leadership. Hence, her personal strategy work was born. Jeanne helps men and women between the ages of 35 and 55 who are fed up with their corporate jobs to create fulfilling professional and personal lives through the development of a personal strategic plan. This work ensures that her clients identify their professional and personal goals as well as create a plan to make those goals a reality. Jeanne is also the Executive Director of the Atlanta Road Trotters Kid’s Running Club, a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for children to build a foundation of running health and fitness which leads to a better connection to the organized running community as well as a strong foundation of Discipline, Self-Esteem, Respect and Team Work. She has also co-authored a workbook on networking, founded and organized the National Association of Social Workers-Georgia-sponsored ‘Social Service Career Network’ and organized a summit for the National Alliance for Mentally Ill attended by over 100 organizations from 6 Atlanta counties. Previously, she sat on the board of NASW GA as their Secretary as well as on the board of NAMI GA/DeKalb as their Co-President, was a senior consultant for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and helped to run a capital campaign for an independent school. Jeanne has an MSW from Hunter School of Social Work (City University of New York), an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York) and a BA in Psychology from Emory University. Jeanne lives in Atlanta with her ten-year-old son.

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