1 min Read
February 19, 2014

Onboarding your board: How to get a new board member up to speed in an hour (book review)


People are invited to join nonprofit boards for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they have useful professional skills, they’re connected politically or socially, or they give regularly, for instance. And being asked to serve on a board is an honor: it means someone believes that you’ll make a meaningful contribution, and that you can handle the responsibilities of governance.

But how many first-time board members really know what they are signing up for?

 “The Ultimate Board Member’s Book: a 1-Hour Guide to Understanding and Fulfilling Your Role and Responsibilities” by Kay Sprinkel Grace (Emerson Church Publishers) may be a useful tool to help you educate a potential candidate for your nonprofit’s board, or educate a board member who seems unclear what their role is.

Kay Sprinkel Grace has written many great books on governance, and she certainly knows her stuff. This book is a basic primer designed to cover a lot of ground fast and high-level.  It really does take about an hour to read, which means it can’t go too deep into any particular topic. Chapters on working with staff, development and fundraising, and meetings are perhaps most useful.

I’d suggest you send a copy of this book to vetted board candidates to review before they accept an offer to join your board. It will open up an opportunity to have frank conversations about what you will expect of them, and give them a chance to ask questions they may otherwise be embarrassed to ask (like what their legal responsibilities are, for instance).

Got other books that have served your board well? Please let me know.