At the core of a successful not-for-profit organization (NFP) must be an effective board of directors. A reasonable approach to building a more effective board includes ensuring the board has a high level of participation among its members and that the focus of their participation is concentrated on governance. It is not a new notion that board orientation programs can create a climate that facilitates high board participation that is focused on governance; however, in this article, I offer what may be a new vision for developing and managing board orientation programs. The proposed model includes NFP-specific and general board training content that one would expect to find in a orientation program for new board members. In addition, it includes three factors which may make it distinct: 1) teaching a board member shared beliefs or “truths” that can enhance their perceived ability to govern; 2) creating a dialogue through which a board member can articulate his or her perceived needs and obstacles to fully participate; and. 3) implementing a process for the NFP to be responsive to board member needs and obstacles so board participation increases. The research study presented in this paper tests the efficacy of the proposed orientation model. The results are discussed and implications for best practices for NFPs are suggested.





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