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August 18, 2015
By Beth Brooks, CAE

I am excited to announce that earlier this month I released my first book, The New CEO's Guide: For new, aspiring or current association Executives (published by ASAE).

In my role at TSAE I council and guide many first-time association CEOs. I have taken that information and coupled it with advice from other experienced CEOs to create a useful guide for new or aspiring CEOs.

The book is available online at the ASAE bookstore, but you can read an excerpt below on the importance of Board orientation (which I am holding for our own new Board members later this week).

Need to hold a Board orientation for your association? TSAE’s new Executive Consulting Services includes Board Orientation and Strategic Planning facilitation by experienced association executives. Learn more

Why Do You Need to Offer Board Orientation?

An excerpt from The New CEO's Guide by Beth Brooks, CAE

Holding an orientation for the full board or new board members allows you the time to fully explain their roles and responsibilities, any legal concerns, and the organization’s finances and strategic initiatives. You may decide to bring in an outside association consultant to facilitate the orientation, Often, hearing this information from an association expert is more powerful than hearing it from staff, especially when talking about roles and responsibilities of CEO versus the board. Even if you bring in a consultant, there are some association-specific topics that you should cover as the CEO, including the strategic plan, financials, and policies. This is your opportunity to show your knowledge of the internal operations, introduce the staff, explain any issues of concern that you have uncovered, and update the board about trends in the industry that may affect the association. 

Bob Harris, CAE, founder of the Nonprofit Center and association consultant, lists the following excellent reasons why you should do board orientation. I recommend that you use these points as part of your discussion with the chairman if you have never had an orientation and as your outline for orientation training if you are doing it on your own. 

Copies must be provided immediately (or by the close of business on that day) in the case of in-person requests and within 30 days in the case of written requests. Reasonable copying fees and postage may be charged.

Associations should have procedures so staff members know of the public record IRS requirements. A simple method is the creation of a notebook or virtual folder in a shared drive or on a service like Dropbox, labeled “IRS Public Records.” The file should include PDF copies of the annual IRS Form 990 for the past three years, the application, and letter of determination.

An alternative and acceptable response to providing copies is to make the documents widely available by posting them on the internet. They can be posted on the association’s website or made available at a site such as

If you follow Harris’ guidelines, the board’s productivity will improve after you ensure that everyone is up to speed. Orientation is one area where you can make a big difference and it will significantly enhance how you are perceived as a leader. Providing this education will cement a good partnership in working with the board. It shows your expertise and clearly defines the roles of the board in relation to you and the staff.

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