10 Reasons Why Your Nonprofit Should Invest in Board Development

nonprofit board director meeting professional development for nonprofit organizations

by Desiree Tirk, Trainer/Resource Developer-Leadership

Nonprofit boards of directors are made up of volunteers whose collective knowledge helps guide nonprofit organizations as they make changes, embrace challenges, and plan for the future. With this in mind, do nonprofit boards of directors need professional development? Absolutely they do! In fact, nonprofit board development is essential for strengthening capacity and continuing to raise the bar toward a standard of leadership excellence. Boards committed to building a culture of continuous development will be more innovative, think more strategically, and improve governance practices to meet current and future demands.  

So, what exactly is board development? 

Board development includes anything that can help the board better understand its roles and responsibilities and be more effective in organizational leadership. This includes training opportunities, shared learning experiences, and networking for continual advancement in governance performance and practices. According to BoardSource, “Nonprofit board education and training is a vital part of any board’s development.”  

Board development begins with a thorough board orientation process for new directors and continues with ongoing professional development to ensure that all directors fully understand the roles and responsibilities they have agreed to. BoardSource recommends that, “boards assess their overall performance every two years and build tangible board development plans based on what they learn.” 

According to Leading Governance, there are 10 reasons why your board should invest in board development: 

  1. It reminds board members of their role and responsibilities – boards that invest in professional development are able to better understand their governance role and think more strategically. 
  2. It helps build the board team – boards that learn together, grow together. The benefit of board learning is building resilient relationships.
  3.  It ensures board members are using ‘reasonable care, skill, and diligence’ – a board that is knowledgeable and understands its roles and responsibilities can make decisions that fulfill its fiduciary duty.
  4. It shows that the organization values continual learning – by investing in board development, the board becomes a role model for building and maintaining a culture of continuous learning that flows through the organization. Strong leaders recognize that there is always room for improvement.
  5. It helps keep the organization safe and legal – boards need to be aware of changing legislation, regulations, and best practices and how they impact the organization.
  6. It helps motivate and retain good board directors – boards who invest in board development attract, motivate, and retain board directors to be part of a high-performing organization.
  7. It builds trust – organizations that invest in board development build effective boards that gain trust and credibility with one another, and in the community.
  8. It increases innovation and improves performance – according to BoardSource, “taking training helps to ignite new ideas that the board may not have thought of on its own.”
  9. It helps ‘future-proof’ the board – boards that are aware of the emerging trends in their community and the nonprofit sector can ensure that the organization continues to prepare, adapt, and pivot for the uncertain times ahead.
  10. It gives a competitive advantage – boards that invest in learning and development are focused on quality assurance and risk management related to outcomes and a culture that sets the tone regarding organizational performance, person-centred practice, accountability, and so on.
nonprofit board of directors engaging in pr

Does SARC provide board development? 

Yes! SARC’s ELEVATE program is an excellent board development opportunity that allows directors to build their confidence and strengthen their skills regardless of whether they are new to the board or seasoned veterans. ELEVATE provides a variety of tools, resources, and research for Boards to consider and encourages critical thinking while supporting directors in their role to effectively govern and fulfill the organization’s mission. 

The newly refreshed ELEVATE program now contains 14 modules covering a wider variety of topics. Busy board directors can choose which modules to take, based on their needs and in any order they wish, depending on each individual board director’s knowledge and organizational circumstances. Each module contains customizable templates, learning activities, videos, and links to additional resources. Once enrolled, directors have 365 days to access ELEVATE as often as they wish. Directors can ‘grab and go’ – a flexible new way for boards of directors to participate in professional development.    

Board development opportunities, like ELEVATE, can result in a well-developed and high-performing board, building future leaders, and helping to maintain a strong governance body. Remember, strong governance results in a strong organization. 

Be sure to visit SARC Learning Central for leadership and professional development opportunities for nonprofit board directors to support you in your role of leading and governing your organization.   

5 reasons why board directors benefit from professional development


Please Note: The included information is for reference only, and SARC and its Members, their employers, officers, and Directors assume and accept no liability for any consequences arising from the use, non-use, accuracy, or legal compliance of any of the information, tools, or resources provided.

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