Board structure & operations

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OverView of Non-Profit Management

 Nonprofit Governance and strategic leadership

Governance is the process of providing strategic leadership to a nonprofit organization. It entails the functions of setting direction, making policy and strategy decisions, overseeing and monitoring organizational performance, and ensuring overall accountability.Nonprofit governance is a political and organizational process involving multiple functions and engaging multiple stakeholders. The meaning of governance is relatively different for nonprofit and governmental settings. Public sector (government) governance refers to the political process of policy and decision making for communities and political jurisdictions, whereas nonprofit governance refers to the process of providing leadership, direction, and accountability for a specific nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization. This chapter addresses only the topic of nonprofit governance. In the United States and many other nations, an incorporated nonprofit organization must have a governing board and, as a matter of law, this board constitutes “the organization.” It is common for boards to hire staff to actually do the work of the organization, often with support from volunteers. 

Different Is Better: Why Diversity Matters in the Boardroom

In view of the evolving responsibilities and influences of boards, we set about to study how boardroom heterogeneity is perceived and valued by directors. Our focus was gender, as there has been a significant amount of change regarding women in the boardroom over the last decade. We were less interested in the often-quoted statistics and “glass ceiling” issues that have been analyzed and discussed by many before us and instead set out to go further, to identify why it is important to have a diversity of perspective in the boardroom. As we began to probe, we realized that our findings on this issue transcend gender to address a broader subject. How does diversity of perspective in the boardroom lead to a good dynamic and better governance? How can boards better structure themselves to benefit their constituents? Finally, how can candidates and nominating committees respond to the opportunities and needs that already exist? 

But diversity for its own sake falls short of both the need and the opportunity. An evolution is under way, and boards now are beginning to realize that it is the breadth of perspective, not the mere inclusion of various diverse traits, that benefits the organization.

Non-profit Governance Models: Problems and Prospects

The paper characterizes existing governance models along two dimensions: established vs. innovative and unitary vs. pluralistic. It also provides a way to map current perspectives according to four different models; the Policy Governance model, the Entrepreneurial model, the Constituency model and the Emergent Cellular model.  It also briefly describes the characteristics of each model and outlines the positive and negative features of each. It concludes by describing a new hybrid model which embraces the strengths of each model and also capitalizes on some of the new ways of framing management in turbulent times.

Bradshaw, P., and Hayday B., (1998) Non-profit Governance Models: Problems and Prospects The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, Volume 12(3), 2007, article 5.

Grassroots Governance: Governance and the Non-Profit Sector

The objective of this booklet is to help volunteers better understand their role in good governance, guide organizations in their desire to balance transparency and accountability and to provide guidance to grassroots organizations as they grow and mature. A clear mandate helps attract new volunteers (p. 9) The Board of Directors (p. 11) Grassroots Growth (p. 12) To Incorporate or not to incorporate (p. 13) Types of Boards (p. 14) Transparency and Accountability (p. 17) Conflict of Interest (p. 26)

 Grassroots Governance: Governance and the Non-Profit Sector Certified General Accountants of Ontario. First edition, 2008 Grassroots Governance: Governance and the Non-Profit Sector

Ten Dimensions that Shape Your Board

This workbook is designed to help you and your board: 1) understand the cultural and developmental context of your organization, 2) recognize strengths and challenges related to how you work together, and 3) consider alternative strategies that build on your strengths and guard against challenges. The goal of this resource is to provide you with a useful framework for being intentional about how you function as a board

Building Peace within Non-profit Organizations

Conflict competence is essential to create energetic organizations with strong relationships between staff, volunteers, members, partners, funders and other stakeholders. It improves morale, clarity of purpose and allows the non-profit to work with greater strength to achieve its goals. This article shares some of the common sources of tension and conflict within non-profit and voluntary organizations. These observations are also based on findings from 16 experts -- eight non-profit leaders and eight consultants who work with this sector.


Peringer. C. (2005) Building Peace within Nonprofit Organizations

The Non-profit Board Member’s Role in Marketing

In this resource, First Non-profit Foundation has identified topics of particular interest to board members and provides digests of time-tested wisdom, emerging thought, and the insights of highly experienced practitioners. Its purpose is to create mutual exchanges of value and, while there are specialized roles, marketing is everyone’s job in organizations seeking to grow and succeed. Topics covered are: Understand Your Mission and “Primary Customer” (pg. 3) Make Marketing Policy (pg. 4) The Six “Ps” of marketing (pg. 5) “Branding” (pg. 6) Having clear Expectations for Board Members’ Supportive Roles (pg. 7)


Gary J. Stern (2011) Champions with a Cause: The Non-profit Board Member’s Role in Marketing 2nd edition

Integrated Anti-Oppression framework for Reviewing and Developing Policy

This resource was developed by Spring Tide. It aims to help organization review their current policy using an Anti- oppression framework. This toolkit is full ideas of what organizations can do to challenge social inequality (pg. 2) Barriers and challenges to integrated ant-oppression (pg. 6) Applying anti-oppression to policies (pg. 9) setting up a policy review committee and accessing the accessible of your  policies and work sheets (pg. 15-40)

Alexander, M, (2008) An Integrated Anti-Oppression framework for Reviewing and Developing Policy. Springtide Resources. 

Anti-Oppression Practice for Community Groups

This document developed by Centre for community organizations came out of workshops that conducted 2012-2013. The goal of this document is to help start dialogue on how to build organizations and workplaces where all experiences and voices are welcome, valued and fully able to participate. It is not meant to be a comprehensive list of strategies, or a "quick fix"- rather, it provides ideas regarding challenges to implementing Anti-Oppressive practices within organizations, as well as Strategies and Solutions to make organizations more open to fostering equality and diversity.

Centre for Community Organizations (2013) Anti-Oppression Practice for Community Groups

Key Questions to Consider When Thinking About Conflicts of Interest

This information fact sheet was developed by the Centre for Community Organizations. They state that a conflict of interest occurs when someone in a position of trust has competing professional or personal interests. These competing interests can possibly interfere with the person’s ability to remain impartial as they fulfill their duties.

COCo – The Centre for Community Organizations Published November 2010

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