Agenda item 16: Encourage, support formal and informal board development.
To govern effectively and with impact, nonprofit boards and their members need a broad range of resources and capacities in our toolbox.
Board learning needs are high and ongoing. Board development opportunities are essential to building the knowledge and skills we need to govern effectively. Helping board members connect to those resources is essential.
Board members have at least two areas of learning need: about the organization and its mission area and about governing effectively. Each mission area will have a different mix of sources, but a wide range of sources now exists on- and off-line for everyone. Board members need know about, and have access to, as many of those resources as possible.
Does your agency have an umbrella organization or peer network that shares resources? Link board members into that information pool and/or share information made available there.
Are there government (federal, state, etc.) agencies that inform your work? Make sure board members have access to those resources.
Do any of these networks have e-newsletters offering information that board members may find useful? Share your copy or encourage them to sign up for their own.
Are there conferences or other professional development events that have the potential to build board member understanding and leadership capacity? Recognize the investment in your future and provide funding for one or two members to attend (and request that they share handouts and highlights to extend the learning to all when they return).
Are there webinars, free of paid (again, it's an investment), covering topics of importance to your work? Make sure board members know about them and encourage them to participate.
We can't afford to have passive board members who resist the learning necessary to govern effectively. But, if that is true, we also can't afford to leave them on their own to figure out where to find what they need. Besides creating the expectation for board development, we must do what we can to support them.
What resources will help your board members lead and succeed? How will you connect them to those resources? How will they be expected to share that learning and expand their individual and collective capacity to govern?
For more information on nonprofit board learning in all of its forms, visit the "Board Learning" tab at the top of the page.