A board manual is not only a useful tool for the board's induction process but can also serve as a reference point for all board members throughout their terms.
While putting a manual together from scratch may seem like a time-consuming chore, once the foundations are laid, it will pay enormous dividends in ensuring board members have relevant information on hand at all times.
How you prepare and present your manual is a matter of individual style or need, but as a minimum you should ensure that it includes the following features:
The board manual should be a living document, updated as need be (when policies change, for example). For this reason it is best to present the manual in a "loose leaf" format, which will allow pages to be pulled out or added as required. If your board members are technologically competent, you could consider making an electronic manual. This way, you can easily make adjustments and email the new version (ensuring that board members overwrite the old document).
You do not want to weigh down your board members with useless information. Keep the manual as simple and brief as possible.
Similarly, ensure your manual is easy to read. Don't fill it with long-winded sentences or purple prose. Avoid jargon, or if you have to use difficult words, explain what they mean. The purpose is to convey information, not to impress with the author's literary skills.
At the very minimum, make sure your manual contains a contents page. Ideally, it should also have an index. Divide the manual into sections to ensure board members can flick to the area they want without having to search the entire document. Make sure information is dated to ensure that board members can trace which version they are using. Ask board members what they think of the manual and what they would like to change.
Your manual should contain information about the background and current context of your community group and the board.
This could include:
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