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A few years ago, In Trust published an article about getting new board members set up for success through good orientation and thoughtful sharing of materials, information, and policies. You can read the article in its entirety here.

The following checklist is a helpful place to start for new members. And while you’re at it, you might want to ensure that current and seasoned members have this material too.



All board members should have the following materials: 

  • Mission and strategic plan.
  • Annual budget and recent financial statements.
  • Articles of incorporation and bylaws. If the school is embedded in a university, board members need the university’s bylaws too.
  • Board handbook, if there is one. If not, consider creating one, using In Trust’s “Guide to Developing Your Board Handbook.” See
  • Conflict of interest policy and disclosure form.
  • Contact information for board members, administration, and faculty. If possible, include brief biographies of every member, along with thumbnail photos.
  • Handbooks for board, faculty, and staff.
  • History of the school and the most recent fact sheet.
  • Latest fundraising data.
  • Map of campus.
  • Minutes of the last two or three meetings.
  • Policy manual, if there is one. For more about creating a board policy manual, see
  • Statement of board member expectations



A clear statement of board member expectations may include the following:

  • Areas of knowledge. At minimum, members should have a basic ability to understand and oversee operational and capital budgets. They should also learn the institution’s endowment guidelines and investment policies and its policies for appointment, promotion, and tenure of faculty.
  • Expectations for behavior. Board members should attend all meetings unless excused, and the attendance policy should be spelled out clearly. Requirements for committee membership, if any, should also be explained. Board members should also respect the boundaries that define the roles of the board, faculty, administration, and student. As a group, the board should accept the responsibility of assessing itself and the president regularly.
  • Expectations for giving. Usually, a board member is expected to give to the annual fund every year and to participate in capital campaigns and other special development activities.



Does this whet your appetite for more information about board orientation? Join us in September for our next live webinar, Board orientation: Laying a strong foundation.

For more information about board orientation or other topics, please contact our Resource Consultants today: 302-654-7770 or


Image: Ursa Minor Hevelius, by Johannes Hevelius.


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