Boards and Governance Reads

//Boards and Governance Reads

Boards and Governance

The Ultimate Board Members Book

Bottom line: This is a quick read that will help you understand the job of a board member.

The Ultimate Board Member’s Book takes only 60 minutes to read, yet it provides a solid command of just what board members must do to help their organization succeed. It’s all here in jargon-free language: how boards work, what the job entails, the time commitment, the role of staff, serving on committees and task forces, fundraising responsibilities, conflicts of interest, group decision-making, how to develop yourself, effective recruiting, de-enlisting board members, board self-evaluation, and more.

You can buy the book here.

The Board Book: An Insider’s Guide for Directors and Trustees

A must-have for first-time and experienced board members alike, who will benefit from William G. Bowen’s decades of experience.

Former Mellon Foundation and Princeton University president William G. Bowen has served on the boards of some of the United States’s biggest corporations and nonprofits, including American Express, Merck, the Smithsonian, and TIAA-CREF. In The Board Book he brings his immense experience, along with the recollections and insights of numerous colleagues, to bear on the most pressing questions facing boards of directors and trustees today. His topics include the hot-button issues of the relationship between CEOs and board members, “perks,” executive compensation, and CEO transitions. In addition, Bowen offers advice on the “machinery” required to run a board effectively, including the uses of committees and executive sessions, the handling of leaks, and the recruitment of new board members. Throughout, Bowen relates, with anecdotes and hard data, strategies that result in the collegiality and sense of purpose that make any board more effective.

By William Bowen, 2008. Find it at

Mission Driven Governance

The prevailing governance model is fundamentally adversarial, pitting board members in a never-ending struggle with executives. This model may ensure that the legal requirements of oversight and compliance are met, but it does little to advance the organization’s goals. The authors of this paper propose a new and more effective framework, one where board members and executives work together to advance the organization’s mission. You can find this article here.

By Raymond Fisman, Rakesh Khurana, & Edward Martenson

Legal Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

Board members have a fiduciary duty over the organization and its resources. This book, provides a preliminary understanding of the nonprofit legal landscape delivered in easy-to-understand terms. It discusses the concept of fiduciary responsibility, summarizes strategies for protecting board members from personal liability, and outlines the policies and procedures that, increasingly, are becoming best practices within the sector. It also includes an appendix with several samples of recommended board policies and a glossary of legal terms and concepts.

Legal Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, by Bruce R. Hopkins Washington, DC: BoardSource, 2003.  Find it on BoardSource.

Great Boards for Small Groups: A 1-Hour Guide to Governing a Growing Nonprofit

Which of the following best describes your board: Phenomenal, fantastic, astonishing, boffo? Okay, pretty good is more like it. That’s the perspective Andy Robinson takes in his book, Great Boards for Small Groups. Andy knows that most boards are made up of well-meaning people who want to help. Transforming them into a powerhouse is unrealistic. But getting them to over-achieve isn’t. If your board needs clearly defined objectives, meetings with more focus, broader participation in fundraising, and more follow-through between meetings, Andy will help you chop through the thicket. Granted, even after your board absorbs Great Boards for Small Groups, the adjectives above might still be a stretch. But Andy is betting that at the very least, Exceptional is a label that will apply.

By Andy Robinson, 2006. Find it at

Good Governance for Nonprofits: Developing Principles and Policies for an Effective Board

Many nonprofits are reluctant to develop a policies manual, believing that it takes far too much time, effort, and expertise. But the lack of responsible policies and governance can actually end up costing an organization much more in the long run — both in reputation and in resources. Good Governance for Nonprofits is a succinct but thorough guide that will help organizations develop a board that is legally and ethically responsible and effective in advancing their needs. The authors offer a clear process for creating a policies manual to help boards apply proven standards of governance or “attributes of excellence.” Now even with limited resources, nonprofit leaders will learn how to: Eliminate redundant or outdated policies Add new policies more effectively Clearly guide the CEO and evaluate his or her performance Ensure compliance with relevant legislation and regulations Understand why certain policies should be included Adapt the authors’ templates to their specific needs.

By Frederic L. Laughlin, 2007. Find it at

Financial Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

While nonprofit success is measured in more than just dollars, board members must maintain a close eye on the financial direction of the organization and its economic stability if they are to truly fulfill their fiduciary responsibility.

Financial Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, Second Edition, by Andrew S. Lang for BoardSource, uses nontechnical language to help board members gain a basic understanding of their financial oversight responsibilities and gives them a starting point for comprehending key financial data.

Find it on BoardSource.

Extraordinary Board Leadership: The Keys To High Impact Governing

Many nonprofits never take full advantage of their board members. Extraordinary Board Leadership: The Keys To Governing deals with an incredibly important topic – “High-Impact Governing” – which is at the heart not only of a nonprofit’s effectiveness, but also the key to a positive, productive, and enduring Board-CEO partnership. This text offers practical, hands-on guidance, and goes beyond the old-fashioned “Policy Governance” approach  in dealing with the Board-CEO-Executive Staff partnership. By Doug Eadie, 2008.

Find it at

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