Nonprofit Governance Models

Governance models for nonprofits are the foundations for a nonprofit’s decision making and power distribution. They connect the board to the stakeholders and constituents of the organization and help create joint ownership and accountability.

Unfortunately, the media is focused on board inefficiency or poor governance. This negative publicity could discourage volunteers from joining boards of non-profit organizations. With the fact that board seats for nonprofit organizations generally aren’t paid and come with annual giving requirements and expectations for giving, it’s no wonder the nonprofit sector struggles to recruit great board members and keep them engaged.

While traditional governance approaches are based on corporate models and my blog outdated top-down command and control models remain dominant in the sector of non-profits and often dissociate the boards, stakeholders and communities from the work of the organization and inhibit effective accountability and governance. To combat this issue it is crucial to ensure that governance models encourage good governance and enhance community-based impact.

Many nonprofit organizations will start with one main governance model, like Carver’s model for a policy board and then develop one or more additional governance models to better suit the needs of their particular organization. Some nonprofits create a leadership team to help with fundraising or other tasks, while others might opt for a management-team governance model to ensure compliance with regulations. It is typical to create committees within the board to address issues like governance and nominations, financial and risk and executive decisions.