HR Scoop

New Board Member Onboarding Checklist

Written by Beth Ostrem

A structured onboarding checklist for board members decreases the time needed for them to become an effective board member, while also providing a positive transition into their role. 

If your organization has long-tenured board members, it may have been several years since you last had a new board member to onboard. Even if you welcome new board members regularly, now may be a good time to review your onboarding process to ensure new board members are getting the information needed to be successful in their role. 

This HR Scoop provides a new board member onboarding checklist that can be used to assess and update your board member onboarding processes.




  • New board member receives written notice of election to the board stating dates their term begins and ends, regular meeting dates, times, places, and information about the board orientation process
  • Announcement of new board member (both external and internal)


  • Review Standards of Conduct Policy and Code of Ethics
  • Complete required disclosures
  • Chair assigns new board member to committee(s)

Preparation for Attending First Meeting

  • Send meeting invite along with meeting details / logistics
  • Consider assigning new board member a board mentor who they can sit by at first couple of meetings to ask questions, discuss protocols, etc.
  • Consider having new member review first meeting agenda items with either CEO or mentor to give background information or historical perspective on discussion items prior to meeting
  • Schedule orientations with key business executives. Items to consider for discussion include:
    • Overview of organization, financials and how it brings value to customers
    • Executive team members’ roles and responsibilities
    • Current board members and their affiliations
    • Board policies and protocols
    • Governance processes: overview of software and apps used by board members, meeting registration, etc.

After First Meeting

  • Check in with board member to see if they have questions

Future Meetings

  • Provide calendar of meetings including board and committee meetings
  • Provide the process to follow if the new member is unable to attend a meeting


  • Obtain contact information for governance directory
  • Add new board member to email lists
  • If using a board application for agenda, exhibits, governance documentation, etc. set up access for new board member, including training

Payment of Retainer and Meeting Fees

  • Provide board member Travel Policy
  • Set up direct deposit authorization
  • Set up access for software (example: Concur) for submitting meeting expenses


Determine appropriate training and schedule for new board member such as:

  • Board practices
  • CEO compensation
  • Effective board governance
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Industry specific training


As you examine your current process, build upon the checklist provided to include any organization-specific information that is helpful for board members to know.

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We also find it helpful to ask recently added board members about their onboarding experience. Often, they will identify gaps in the process to improve the experience for future board members.


Below are some questions to get you started.

When asking the questions, be sure to ask about their experience both before joining the board, the transition to the board, and after they’ve been on the board 3-5 months.

  • Was the information you received from our organization clear?
  • What information was missing?
  • Did you become frustrated or struggle with any specific part while being onboarded to our board?
  • What suggestions do you have to improve the process for new board members?

Having a clear plan for onboarding new board members can contribute to the effectiveness of your board and avoid confusion around the Board’s role and expectations.

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