Improving the Foundation Onboarding Experience

Today more than ever, philanthropic resources are an essential alternative revenue source for health care organizations. That means health care foundations must not only find the right people to serve on the board but also ensure these leaders are effectively prepared for the role and integrated into the life of the organization.

Current board orientation approaches often elicit groans and eye-rolling. Typically, a single meeting is spent navigating a thick binder and absorbing bylaws, policies, budgets and other mind-numbing details of the organization. However, since the foundation has carefully selected new board members with a passion for the mission, why would the focus of orientation be almost exclusively on reviewing business documents?

It is time for the foundation board governance committee to recalibrate orientation to instead offer an impactful and ongoing onboarding experience. This new approach provides fulfilling, meaningful mission experiences to connect new members to the organization’s mission, purpose, culture and stories. It pairs them with a current member mentor who can acclimate them to the board culture, make them feel welcome and explain board activities. It spotlights key organizational leaders—such as the CEO or clinicians—to illuminate the organization’s vision and aspirations for transforming care. It prepares them with the understanding, facts and stories to be confident and compelling advocates in the community. It provides meaningful touchpoints with new members across the first year of their tenure to ensure they are embraced and engaged by the organization. Ultimately, shifting from orientation to onboarding goes a long way toward educating, engaging and activating new members.

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