Nonprofit organizations require at least three board members to maintain their 501(c)3 status. Most boards have more than three members, each with a variety of roles and responsibilities that depend on organizational needs. No matter the size of the board they all have one thing in common; members are busy.
We have discussed in class the importance of board training. There is no denying that any advancement in the skills of board members is beneficial to the organization. These skills may include fundraising, financial management, effective governance practices, marketing, etc. Usually board members are hired because of the skills they already posses. The board chair can enhance these skills by training members on how to use them in the nonprofit sector and for the organization.
Finding time to train members remains a challenge for many board chairs. Meetings, due to their infrequency, often have crammed full agendas. It is difficult to put aside important items like financial management and strategic planning to train members. However, the benefit of individual members understanding critical issues within the nonprofit world will facilitate overall effectiveness.
There are different ways to train busy board members that do not eat into meeting time. One is to invite guest speakers to one or more meetings. Guest speakers can offer a wealth of information and the extra benefit of question and answer time. Similarly, a board could invite a professional trainer to facilitate learning, however, price could be an issue. Another method is webinars or other online training tools. Another is sending readings home with board members allows them to train in their own time.
Board chairs and CEOs must remember that while members are busy, they have committed their time to serving on the board. This commitment includes continuing education on how to best use their talents for the benefit of the organization. Taking time to research training methods, topics and resources will prove to be worthwhile for the effectiveness of the board.
Nonprofit Resource Center of Western Virginia