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  • Kathy Fitzgerald

Do you feel engaged with your Board and its vision?

If the answer is no, the following causes might be what you are experiencing:

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1. Your not sure what the vision is


“It could be that your board hasn’t identified its vision for the organization or its lost track of its vision. ”


Board members who have been on the board for a long time (some for as much as twenty years or more) may not feel the need to revisit their vision. What can happen is that the organization’s work has changed over time to incorporate more of a focus in a particular area.


This is the time to take a look at where the board’s energy is spent and the type of programs or services it provides.


It’s beneficial to the organization to build into its guidelines a timeframe for when the #vision, #mission and #strategic plan is to be reviewed.




2. You lack the knowledge or expertise you feel is needed to complement the other board members


“It’s usual for a new board member to feel they lack the requirements to sit on a nonprofit board of directors especially if the present board members have been part of the board for some years..”


Many board members have experienced success in their business or career which is a valuable commodity to bring to an organization. It’s a matter of time before a new board member feels comfortable working with other board members and feeling comfortable in where they fit or with what they can bring to the organization.


The board should provide you with a board member recruitment package containing the relevant documents and materials you need for help you function in your new role. Everything in this package should provide you with the necessary information about your role, the organization’s finances, its programs and services and human resources.


Take a look at past meetings and agendas to become familiarized with how the board operates. Review how the board manages its meetings by asking the following questions:

  • What type of projects does the board most often agree to implement or fund?

  • Is there time to discuss all or most of the items on the agenda?

  • How does the board work with the CEO and other senior staff?



3. There's a lack of protocol at meetings


“Board members often speak out of turn and interrupt when they feel the need.”


If there is a lack of leadership it can lead to misguided members taking on a leadership role. This is not a good situation and the board needs to keep rebels at bay. You’ll always find at least one member who loves the attention and will jump at the chance to showcase his experience or knowledge (or lack thereof).


A #chairperson needs to make sure that the meeting runs smoothly and in a timely fashion. A good chairperson will keep interruptions under control and ensure that the members understand the meeting protocols.


4. You didn't receive board orientation or training


“It’s difficult to jump into the role of board member if you haven’t received an orientation session or training.”

You need to know the board’s guidelines for:

  • your role as a board member

  • the board’s confidentiality policy

  • conflict of interest guidelines

  • evaluation process for board members and the CEO

It would be an ideal situation for an experienced board member to mentor a new member for a period of time until he or she becomes acclimatized to the role. Sitting on one of the board’s #committees is also an excellent way to gain experience. The CEO is also an excellent source of information for any questions the new board member may have.


Training for board members should be an annual event at the very minimum. Bringing in an outside #consultant or trainer would be the recommended method. The trainer / consultant would be able to provide a wealth of experience from working with other boards using proven methods for successful outcomes.


Training sessions are also great opportunities for board members to bond and work together as a team to ensure they can complement the organization with their valuable knowledge and skills.


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