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Looking to Spice up Your Board Meetings? Try Training

Explore how building governance training into nonprofit board meeting agendas means more knowledge shared, more knowledge retained, and more engaging meetings.
byWhitley RichardsonJune 26, 2023

Most people volunteer to serve on nonprofit boards because they are passionate about the cause that the nonprofit represents, not because they are interested in sitting through hours of governance training. But passion is only one part of the equation, and we know that training is key for board members to actually do their jobs effectively.

So how do we get our boards to invest the time in the training necessary to drive positive impact, especially keeping in mind that board members come with varying amounts of board service experience? And how do we provide both one-time “board member best practices” training and ongoing training that meets the evolving skill and knowledge needs of the board to address real-time challenges facing the organization? And finally, how do we use training to create a more equitable and inclusive environment on the board?

Great questions! (If we may say so ourselves.) Our thoughts:

Try bite-sized, ongoing training during board meetings.

Ongoing training is an excellent place to start. Incorporating learning sessions into your regular board meetings is even better. Why?

1. Training during board meetings allows board members to immediately apply their learnings to the conversation at hand. A quick read-through of relevant content available online can lead to much more productive conversations.

2. During a board meeting more experienced board members can share their expertise with newer members and discuss prior relevant situations and how they worked to better or resolve them. The training comes to life with real-life scenarios.

3. Ongoing training benefits all board members, regardless of how long they’ve served. As technology and other advancements change how all businesses, whether for-profit or nonprofit, run their operations, everyone can learn new methods, software, and practices together. This is especially critical in rapidly changing economic and political climates.

4. Adding regular learning opportunities to every meeting agenda allows board members to feel comfortable asking questions and requesting new topics for training at upcoming meetings. This will enable people to self-identify their skill or knowledge gaps and then have them addressed as a group.

5. Ongoing training helps build a sense of teamwork and camaraderie because all the board members feel like they are having a shared experience, rather than just one or two people attending a one-time training separate from the group.

6. Remembering that board members are volunteers with other obligations outside of your organization, incorporating training into the meetings they were already committed to attending lessens the demands on their time. It makes more sense logistically to hold training while the board is already gathered than to schedule one-time training sessions at separate times and locations.

7. It’s more cost-effective to hold in-meeting learning opportunities than to pay to send board members to outside training and seminars. It also reduces the amount of time board members need to spend on training in one go.

Ongoing, integrated learning opportunities can help your board be more confident, effective, and proactive in supporting your organization's needs. Sharing skills and knowledge benefits everyone in the boardroom, which, in turn, benefits the end user—the community you serve. A well-trained board means an organization where everyone feels effective and supported in their roles. The Cause Strategy Partners' Resources Page offers even more information to assist your organization in maximizing your board’s training sessions.

Interested in gaining access to free training for your nonprofit board?

Consider applying to join the BoardLead Network for access to free matching, training, and networking to power your board development process.

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