10 Reasons Why Non-profit Board Training is Important
Ronnie L. Bryant, CEcD, HLM, FM
Ronnie L. Bryant, LLC
If you thought being on the board of a non-profit was easy, think again. There are a lot of misconceptions about serving as a director of a philanthropic organization but, simply put, board members are ultimately responsible for the success of the non-profit. That is why specific board of directors training is so important. A successful non-profit is directed by a group of people who know what they are doing, are passionate about their cause, and are willing to continue to better themselves and their organization. Board training is one way to ensure everyone is on the same page, motivated, and clear about their duties, roles, and responsibilities.
Need more convincing? Check out the top 10 reasons why non-profit board training is essential for success.
For any non-profit to ultimately be successful, there must be a strong board leading the movement. Would you send out a board member to fundraiser without giving them the skills they need to convey the organization’s mission, vision, and values in a way that generates donators, sponsors, and volunteers? We certainly hope not. That is a recipe for failure. In the end, non-profits survive on financial and human support and board members must be trained on the best practices to generate both. Does your board understand the mechanics of fundraising? Do they know how to find leads and recruits? Board training gives members the preparation, resources, and tools they need to cultivate potential prospects and donors effectively. Professional development and training programs will help board members learn how to communicate in a way that creates impact and fuels success.
No board is ever past the need for training. When a board is well-trained, and everyone fully understands their responsibilities, it sets the stage for smooth sailing. Board members are responsible for a wide range of topics including promoting the non-profit's mission, vision, objectives, and goals. But how can you ensure everyone is doing their part? With regular board training, members can learn new skills, understand responsibilities and policies, and get feedback on their performance. When a board is working in unison, it leads to better meetings and ultimately better organizational decisions. When there's a slew of people, and everyone feels like they hold decision making power. things can get sticky. You can keep everyone engaged, excited, and aligned with board training.
Being on a non-profit board can come with plenty of unexpected challenges, emotions, and difficult decisions. Board training will help prep your team on what to do when things don't go as planned – and believe us, it will happen! What's important is how each individual director handles unforeseen circumstances. Will they crumble under pressure, or rise to the occasion? Board training can make the difference between success and failure during times of difficulty, strife, and crisis.
More often than not, board members will be asked to wear many different hats during their term. They should be made aware that there could always be additional expectations that arise. As a leader, it's up to you to provide them with the skills and tools they need to fulfill various responsibilities. Board training will help prepare them for anything from being asked to be an advocate and fundraise, to contributing to creating a strategic plan. Each board member should be made aware of all general obligations for any board position, as well as the fact that those obligations may increase at any given time
Board members (especially new board members) should be given full support and encouragement in serving as a director for your nonprofit organization. To that end, a non-profit board training program will give directors a sense of confidence, belonging, and ‘team spirit’ which is critical to success. During the training, members will learn new leadership skills and insights. It’s also a great opportunity to reinforce the traits they already have that made them an excellent fit to serve on the board in the first place. New board members should be told why they were elected to the board and, with training, feel strengthened in the confidence to succeed in their role.
Even if your non-profit has been around for years, are you regularly checking in on your team? Board training is a special opportunity to have one-on-one check-ins with your team. Board members can collect their thoughts and express them during the training sessions and/or with the board's president. We get it; sometimes juggling life, personal time, and a non-profit board of directors can be overwhelming. Keeping the folks happy who help make the non-profit successful will only create a stronger organization in the long run. We help you and your team work smarter, not harder.
We never stop learning. Board members and executive directors will always have room to grow and improve. Board training offers the ideal mix of education, professional skills, and relevant experience to help the non-profit succeed now and for the future. Keep in mind that board members will come from various backgrounds, demographics, psychographics, experiences, and perspectives. Professional training will help each member hone their individual skills and talents for alignment with the full team and for the greater good of the non-profit.
Just like other organizations, non-profits are accountable for their board members and vice versa. Non-profits must remain worthy of public trust and support in order for any chance of viability and success. Board training helps the board members understand their duty of care, due diligence, and accountability to build trust and reputation with key stakeholders, especially potential donors. Board directors are charged with ensuring legal, regulatory, and ethical standards are maintained. Executive board training gives members the skills they need to help ensure they meet these serious obligations.
Board members must feel a sense of community, belonging, and togetherness. It takes a small village to make a non-profit successful. Board training brings everyone together. It is something they will experience as a unit and ultimately will help them work better as a team. While everyone may have a particular role, it is important for each individual to feel they are involved in a collective effort for the greater good, in good times and especially in difficult times. They must believe that they are an integral member of a team focused on making an impact and making a difference. Board training encompasses learning how to work together, strategically, and tactically, on a regular basis and, most critically, in times of crisis when reputation is at stake. Without a solid reputation no nonprofit can hope to ever survive.
Board members must be able to self-reflect and self-assess. The more self-aware your board members are the more likely they will perform better. So much of a non-profit’s impact is showing the community that people benefit from your proven mission work. Board training will help members remember why they chose to apply to be a board member of this organization and why they were selected Among other considerations is the importance of board members to hone their communication and social skills. Board training targets the importance of each director learning how to represent their non-profit and build positive reputation in the community.
A successful non-profit comprises many aspects of impactful philanthropic work. You need donors, sponsors, volunteers, and the public to engage with and support your organization. There are thousands of non-profits seeking the same funding opportunities. Will your organization shine through and strongly establish itself in order to receive the funding you need?
In short, it is the board's responsibility to fulfill the non-profit's purpose. Give them the right tools, skill sets, support, and resources to put them on the path to success. Board training will help you do just that.