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Bringing on New Board Members for 2023? Here's How to Onboard Them Effectively

When an organization brings a new staff member on board, they likely have detailed onboarding procedures and policies to follow. This helps to ensure that the new staff member completes necessary paperwork, receives important information and trainings, and clearly understands their new role and responsibilities, as well as the overall mission and vision of the organization.

When we bring on a new board member, we should do the same level of onboarding.

Establishing onboarding procedures for new board members is just as important as having those procedures clearly outlined for new staff. Afterall, new board members also need to complete paperwork, receive important information, and clearly understand their new role and responsibilities, as well as the mission and vision of the organization they’re serving.

Putting together a thorough New Board Member Onboarding Process can be challenging. We know this because we’ve helped many clients bring on new board members. So to help make this process a little easier for others, we’ve compiled everything we’ve learned and used into this one handy article.

Onboarding Process

When a new board member is being brought onboard, there are a few crucial steps to take to ensure that their onboarding is thorough:

  1. Official Welcome

  2. Mentor Assignment

  3. Orientation Meeting & Materials

Official Welcome

Before orientation, the new board member should be officially welcomed to the board. An email communication should be sent to the new board member providing them with important information and an invitation to meet with the organization’s director. Additionally, if the new board member has chosen an advisory committee to join, they should be formally welcomed to that committee. This may also be done via email.

Mentor Assignment

New board members will experience a bit of a learning curve as they adjust to their new role. Furthermore, if they chose an advisory committee to join, there may be additional adjustments and learning opportunities that the new board member will encounter. Therefore, assigning an experienced board member to be the new member’s mentor is a great approach.

The mentor will be able to answer questions, provide direction, and be a natural go-to resource for the new board member. To increase growth and learning, it’s often a good idea to assign a new board member to a mentor with a different area of expertise and experience.

While the mentor-mentee relationship may extend beyond the new board member’s first year, it is best practice to establish the expectation that the relationship be in place for a minimum of one year.

Orientation Meeting & Materials

Once a new board member has been appointed, it’s important to orient them to the organization. This should be completed within 14 days of their appointment and should entail an orientation meeting.

An agenda (like the one pictured) should be prepared before the orientation meeting and shared with the new board member. This will give them time to review the agenda and make note of any questions they want to ask.

After the agenda is shared, the orientation meeting should take place. It is important to note that the orientation meeting fulfills two purposes: having discussions about important topics and handing over copies of important documents.

While each organization’s discussion topics and documents will differ, we’ve found that the following items are usually on the agenda for a new board member orientation meeting:

Discussion Topics:

  • An overview of the organization’s mandate and recent activities

  • Review of legal documents, including Bylaws, Stipulation, and Settlement Agreement

  • An overview of Policies and Procedures

  • A review of organizational and strategic framework

  • A review of programmatic guiding documents, background information, and reference tool


  • A historical description of the organization

  • A copy of Bylaws, Stipulation, and Settlement Agreement

  • A copy of Policies and Procedures

  • A copy of the organizational framework

  • A copy of programmatic guiding documents, background information, and reference tool

  • Contact and biographical information for all board members

  • An overview of meeting dates, times, and locations

  • An invitation to join committees (if applicable)


The initial onboarding of a new board member can be overwhelming. Often, there is a lot of information shared within a short period of time, and it’s likely that the new board member will have questions about everything they’ve recently learned. While the mentor they’ve been assigned is going to be a key resource, it’s still important for other board members to check in with the new member.

A simple, “How’s it going?” from a fellow board member can go a long way in making a new board member feel welcome and like they’re part of the team. More formally, it’s a good idea to have the organization’s leadership check in with the new member.

Getting Started

A formal onboarding process for new board members is crucial– it allows for a smooth transition for all of the individuals involved and ensures that your organization is set up for success.

Whether your organization doesn’t have a formal process in place at all or your current process could use some improvement, we’re here to help. Reach out today to learn more about how we can aid your organization with onboarding new board members.


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