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How To Get Nonprofit Board Member Training Right – The First Time

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Regular board training is critical for the success of your organization... Whether your board members are old pros, total newbies, or just used to doing it differently somewhere else.

Here's how to get nonprofit board training right – the first time.

A man stands before a group of nonprofit board members, writing on a white board.

The Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

Creating a culture of learning within your board takes time and intention. Starting off on the right foot can help quite a bit.

Each new board member needs to understand what’s expected of them as soon as they begin to serve on your board. This means your onboarding process must be thorough and up-to-date.

Onboarding for your nonprofit should include everything a new board member needs to know. You’ll want to include documents like:

  • Job descriptions for all board positions, including general members, officers, and committee chairs;
  • A list of current board members and their affiliations;
  • Official paperwork, like bylaws, tax determination documents, and your conflict of interest policy;
  • A summary of your directors and officers (D&O) insurance;
  • Board policies and procedures information, including evaluation and compensation of the executive director;
  • Reimbursement policies and related request forms;
  • Your organization’s history, mission, vision, and core values;
  • An organizational chart and biographies for leadership and key staff members;
  • A copy of your employee handbook;
  • Annual reports and fundraising documents; and
  • A calendar of upcoming meetings.


Make sure you document your onboarding process. This will keep you from reinventing the wheel every time you bring on a new board member – and from skipping any important steps.

Common Nonprofit Board Training Topics

The needs of every board will vary, but there are some common nonprofit board training topics.

Financial Training for Nonprofit Board Members

Financial know-how is critical for proper governance of your nonprofit. Board members must understand how to read balance sheets, bank statements, and profit and loss statements. They should also understand how your investments work, if you have them.

Training Nonprofit Board Members To Fundraise

It's common for board members to shy away from helping with development efforts... But not because they don’t want to help you make money! It’s most likely because they don’t know how to fundraise in a way that feels comfortable and leads to success. Fundraising doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so find trainings for your board members that encompass a wide variety of methods.

Meeting Facilitation & Agenda Setting for Nonprofit Boards

Even if most of your board members don't run meetings, facilitation training is still a good idea. It will help members understand how to be better meeting participants. They'll also be able to pinch-hit during committee meetings and community conversations. Members learning to create an effective agenda will also help ensure your board meetings are as efficient as possible.

Media and Communications Training for Board Members

Media training is a valuable thing to provide for your board members. This can cover everything from speaking with reporters to using social media. Board members will learn how to present your organization in the best light possible.

Board Training Should Be Specific to Your Nonprofit

The needs and focus of every nonprofit organization are unique to that organization’s mission, vision, and community. Effective board training will cover relevant operational topics and keep board members up to date on information related to your issue area.


NPO Centric’s membership includes a variety of nonprofit board training resources – just for nonprofit leaders like you. Check out our membership today to get our forever discount!