A friend of mine recently opened a surgical clinic in an underserved area of his town. As a wealthy entrepreneur, he had the means to provide the clinic with the latest equipment. He used his connections in the community to building a strong board with individuals who were very successful in their own professional fields.

At the first board meeting, he assembled his colleagues around one of the operating tables and handed each of them a scalpel. With a smile expressing a job well done, he faced the group and said, “Welcome. You’re our new surgeons.”

Wait! What? No!! No one would really do this, would they?

Well, I certainly hope not. This is just fiction, but we do something similar everyday in our nonprofits. We select a pool of people to serve on our board because they have experience in their respective field which we need in our nonprofit. We assume that’s all they need to become successful board members.

But just because someone is a great attorney doesn’t mean he or she will know how to manage the finances of your homeless shelter. And the local real estate agent who is always the top of the sales chart doesn’t necessarily know how to market your theatre group.

Training a new board member is just as important to the success of your organization as the training board members receive in their own field of endeavor. Why then, do we fail to offer training to new board members?

Here are some of the common objections I often hear from clients:

  • We don’t have the time; we’re too busy right now. We’ll do it later.
    Later might never come. And, if it does, you might lose good board members to frustration while you are waiting for the “right” time.
  • I’ve tried to train board members in the past. They just don’t seem to get it.
    Maybe you haven’t provided the right training, either because you never received that training yourself or because you’re too close to the situation and forget what the board doesn’t know. Here is where a consultant can assist you.
  • We can’t afford to hire a consultant for board development.
    You can’t afford not to! Your board is crucial to the success of your organization. Providing your board members with all the tools they need to advance your organization and its cause is one of the best things your organization can do!

Contact us to help with your organization’s board development needs. We have successfully developed boards from all verticals of the not-for-profit community. In a pickle about your board? Contact Jessica White Associates at or by phone 317-472-0925.

JWA can move your board to high performers in less time and with less cost than you might think, and we’re ready to help!


Jessica White, president of Jessica White Associates, recently had the opportunity to contribute to “Nonprofit Turnaround: A Guide for Nonprofit Leaders, Consultants & Funders” – a new book by Jan Glick. “Nonprofit Turnaround” is timely, powerful, and full of practical insight and advice. Based on discussions with nonprofit leaders around the country, this book is for anyone working at any level in the nonprofit sector. Learn more by visiting

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