There’s a lot of important information that your board of directors should have easily at hand. A thorough and complete board notebook (also called a board manual or a board binder) will help keep it all organized. What’s more, a board notebook is an excellent tool for orienting new board members!

CNS suggests the following table of contents for your board notebook:

Tab 1: Board Member Background

– Board member contact information
– Board member term limits
– Bios of board members
– Board job descriptions

Tab 2: Meetings

– Agendas (at least the last 3 months)
– Meeting minutes (at least the last 3 months)
– Calendar of board meetings

Tab 3: Bylaws & Internal Documents

– Current strategic plan
– Current bylaws

Tab 4: Financials

– Financial reports (at least the last 3 months)

Tab 5: Board Committees

– Summary description of each committee
– Calendar of committee meetings
– Committee meeting structure and member listing

Tab 6: Policies & Templates

– Conflict of Interest Policy
– Document Retention and Destruction Policy
– Whistleblower Protection
– Other organization policies (such as Confidentiality Policy, Volunteer Policies, etc.)
A Guide to Nonprofit Board Service booklet
– Board recruitment plan

Tab 7: Organization Program Materials

– Organization mission and vision statements
– Calendar of events
– Marketing materials

This notebook can be an electronic document or a paper binder, or both. We recommend a combination of both methods since each has their individual benefits.

If you choose to have an electronic board notebook, we recommend the cloud storage services Dropbox or Google Drive, both of which have a free plan and allow you to make folders, share editing privileges, and send links to others. This is much easier than emailing documents to everyone on your board.

Having one hardcopy binder for each board member allows directors to bring their notebooks to meetings, take and store notes, and access materials without a computer, mobile device, or internet connection.

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