Nonprofit Board Governance

Good board governance is key to a nonprofit organization’s success. There is no one way to govern, but there are many recommendations and tips that can help your board run smoothly.

“Good governance is like a recipe. Good governance requires the right ingredients (the right mix of board members), a chef to provide leadership and accountability, and careful mixing and stirring of candid discussions, transparent practices, and thoughtful governance policies. Your board can master the recipe with the right resources.” – National Council of Nonprofits (US)

Each province will have its own governance policies, standards, recommendations and resources. Be sure to align your board practices and policies with the relevant provincial guidelines.

The video below offers a good overview of board governance.

There are many models of board governance. Your nonprofit must choose the model that best suits its needs and responsibilities.

Regardless of the governance model you adopt, there are universal practices for running a smooth board. The Nonprofit Pro outlines seven great tips:

  1. Attract the right board with recruitment. Nomination committees must continually review the needs of the organization and find candidates with the experience to meet those needs. Board members must have a good understanding of their role. Job descriptions with clearly defined roles and orientation sessions can help new board members succeed.
  2. Develop mission and vision statements. Your mission should clearly and concisely define the organization’s purpose and objectives. The vision statement looks ahead to the future and offers a framework for where you’re headed. The mission and vision provide the structure needed to carry out the daily operations of the organization.
  3. Conduct board training. As mentioned in the first tip, all board members need to understand their role. Offering training will make certain that all the members are on the same page and ensure compliance and accountability.
  4. Ensure effective strategic planning. A modern strategic plan must be a living document that is updated regularly. The strategic plan outlines the future course of the organization.
  5. Optimize meetings. Board members’ time is limited so make sure to use meetings effectively. Create and keep to an agenda. Have members review written reports ahead of the meeting.
  6. Review financial reports. One of the major responsibilities of the board is sound financial management. Review and approve the budget ahead of the start of the fiscal year. Board members should be reviewing financial statements and asking questions continually.
  7. Conduct self-assessments. An anonymous survey is a good way to self-evaluate the board.

Board governance is an important practice to review and keep up to date. Sound governance is key to ensuring success during uncertain times. Check out the resources below for more in-depth information about board governance.


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