Building Better Boards

As most non-profit boards will shortly be regrouping after the summer hiatus, this seems like a good time to highlight board development resources. This list includes both on-line and print materials that can be accessed through Volunteer Victoria’s library.

A very good on-line source for board governance information is the Voluntary Sector Knowledge Network that includes an extensive selection of board materials, from board roles and responsibilities to the board – CEO relationship.

Another excellent resource is the HR Council for the Non Profit Sector Toolkit. The site covers the full spectrum of human resources in non profits, one section of which focuses on the board’s role within HR. This section also includes information on hiring an Executive Director.

Among the myriad articles available on board governance, Becoming a More Effective Nonprofit Board, produced by the respected US non-profit think-tank Bridgespan, is a good short read. The article highlights 4 key areas in which the board must have clarity: oversight, leadership, how the board does its work (people, culture, structures) and role in helping the organization create social change.

A very interesting article that explores the role of the Executive Director in facilitating board leadership is the Vantage Point article, Leading Leaders, by Colleen Kelly. This lighlights the importance of ED’s role in facilitating the development of creative boards with strong leadership capabilities.

Within Volunteer Victoria’s extensive library of publications on boards, Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards (Chait et al), provides a forward thinking perspective on the role of boards. Going beyond the traditional fiduciary and strategic roles, the book introduces a third dimension of effective trusteeship, generative governance.

Also in our library is The Management of Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations in Canada, second edition. Written by an expert team led by Vic Murray, our resident expert in Non Profit Management, this text provides a very comprehensive look at non-profits in Canada today. Written after the recent economic downtown, the book addresses these trends and the new realities that non-profit leaders face these days.

And for those who haven’t ever read anything on the Carver model of governance, the series of books by John Carver are worth a look. We have the full series in our library and titles range from Basic Principles of Board Governance to Strategies for Board Leadership.

In addition to the on-line and print selections referenced here, there is also an excellent little booklet (35 pages) produced by Deloitte & Touche that we include in our board orientation kit at Volunteer Victoria.

This practical guide covers everything from board mandate and responsibilities to building a more effective board.

by Val Green, Executive Director
Volunteer Victoria

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