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Great Boards Plain and Simple: A Guidebook for Non-profit board members and managers

277 pages


Great Boards Plain and Simple is a comprehensive and practical guidebook developed for volunteer board members and senior managers of nonprofit organizations. Containing more than 50 topics, arranged alphabetically for easy and quick reference, Great Boards will help your organization’s leaders discover the path to efficient and effective board governance. Written with Canadian nonprofits in mind, the principles and practices detailed are also applicable to nonprofits in the USA.

An edited excerpt from Great Boards Plain and Simple – Introduction

3 Types of Boards There are three different types of boards or models of governance.

1. Operational boards are useful when the organization is grassroots, just starting its operations and/or and has few or no employees. A board may become operational when the organization is experiencing a major crisis and the board must step in to manage until it is stabilized.
2. Policy-Governance or Carver boards usually require significant periods of study and development to learn to use this model effectively. This type of board focuses on creating end statements (the results or outcomes to be achieved), rather than on means (how or what will be done to achieve the outcomes. It then focuses on creating and monitoring policies that require and limit the executive director in key areas. Given these limits, the executive director and staff may manage the organization as they deem appropriate and necessary. This model is intended to simplify the board-staff roles and relationships. In practice, most boards and senior managers find the model complex to implement in the early stages.
3. Policy boards are the most common governance among non-profits today. The policy board delegates responsibility for day-to-day managing and operating of the organization to an executive director or CEO. The board creates and approves policies for itself (governance policies), for the basic structures (framework policies such as vision, mission, values) and requires operational policies be developed by the executive director and other managers. A policy board defines how the executive director will be held accountable for use resources (people, money and facilities) and conducts regular performance, satisfaction, financial and service audits to ensure expectations are being met. Visit the author’s website at

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