If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. Nonprofit leaders often tell me, “Our board is weak” or, “My board just sits there and agrees with whatever I say and whatever I want to do.”

Sadly, there are many CEO’s who feel their board is failing when in fact, it may not be the fault of the board members at all.

The issue usually is in a lack of effective board training and unclear expectations for your board. Weak and untrained boards cause frustration and can hurt your agency’s performance.

It’s no secret that proper leadership is important. A good place to start when resolving board issues is to focus on setting clear expectations and investing in board training. 

Set Clear Expectations for New Directors and Your Nonprofit Board

I think sometimes CEO’s forget that directors have never previously served on a board. New directors may actually be trying very hard but they if they were never told what it means to be a director and what that job entails, how can anyone expect them to deliver?

New directors probably have no idea what a director does aside from raising money, participating in events, and the like. Too often, new directors are never really told what their roles and responsibilities are and what is expected of them. They simply have never been trained in theses areas.

In addition, new directors rarely are briefed on the agency’s current issues, problems, and opportunities. Instead, they are expected to just absorb all this on their own. 

The solution is to set clear expectations and make sure candidates are briefed even before being voted onto the board. Before a candidate becomes a director, he/she should learn about the issues the board is currently facing.

Whether they are financial, staffing, community engagement, growth related, or otherwise. A new director cannot be expected to add value until he/she becomes informed.

Build an Effective Board Training Program

Inexperienced directors sit out most discussions and let the older directors carry the load. This means the agency is cheated out of the full board’s wisdom. Instead, the board only gets input from a few directors. What a waste of talent.

This is not a commitment problem or a passion problem; this is a training problem.

You can unleash huge amounts of wisdom, energy, and new ideas by ensuring you have an effective director orientation program and conduct periodic board refresher training.

With a little planning and extra effort, an executive director and a board chair can provide other directors with a board training program catered specifically to your nonprofit.

This helps provide valuable and effective board leadership, translating into dynamic results for your agency’s mission.


Make sure your new board members start off on the right foot. I have developed some tools to help you build an effective Board Training Program. Give it a try and see your board’s performance improve!