Association executives know the value of training and orientation for board members. They also know the struggle of finding time in busy schedules and packed agendas for “one more thing,” especially when board members themselves may not see the need.
Here are a few common excuses for not doing board training – and suggestions for overcoming them:
1. We don’t have time
This can probably be heard around every board table. There is never enough time to do everything your organization wants to do. The good news is even a small amount of time in training can make your board more effective and efficient. In the long run, investing time in training can actually save your board time in the future when it is able to quickly analyze situations or proposals and make decisions nimbly.
2. We don’t have money
You could easily spend a ton of money on an elaborate board orientation with travel expenses, a paid facilitator, and expensive leadership assessments. If your organization has that kind of cash, great! Good news – none of that is necessary. Look for free and low-cost training tools online. Utilize low-cost technology options to bring people together virtually. Apply the expertise among your staff and volunteers in leading various training topics. With a little effort, you can pull together an effective training program on a shoestring budget.
3. We don’t have enough information for training
This excuse could be two-fold: Your organization doesn’t believe it has access to the proper information on governance, non-profit management, leadership, etc. to conduct training and/or your organization doesn’t have clear policies on which to train new board members. The first dilemma is relatively easy to address as there are a multitude of resources available online. Start with this checklist for board training and other RGI articles. It can be a bit trickier if the problem is lacking clear policies. Don’t feel like you have to have everything perfectly in place – just take one step at a time toward creating your training content over time. Starting with basic governance and non-profit management training could help you develop a board that is more willing and able to establish necessary policies for the association.
4. They should already know this stuff
New volunteers will hopefully come onto your board with some level of experience, either with your organization or with other non-profit boards. Even when that is the case, you cannot assume they know what they need to know to be successful on this board. Continuing board members may have received your training previously, however they should still participate in board training as well to ensure everyone is on the same page. One benefit of board training is building a cohesive team – that can only be done if everyone is involved.
5. No one pays attention anyway
While this excuse is very frustrating, it does not justify neglect. Just as board members have various duties to uphold, association executives have a duty to provide them the necessary tools and information to be effective. Even if only one volunteer learns something meaningful and applies it to their board service, your training efforts will be worth it!