Nonprofit governance models provide the frameworks to distribute power and make decisions within the nonprofit. They connect the board with the stakeholders and constituents of the organization and help create an environment of shared ownership, empowerment and mutual accountability.

Unfortunately, the media often concentrates on poor or ineffective governance of boards and this negative scrutiny can discourage potential board members from joining board positions on nonprofit boards of directors. Combined with the fact that nonprofit board seats are not usually paid and come with annual expectations for giving so it’s not surprising that the nonprofit sector struggles to find top board members and keep them involved.

Traditional governance practices that are constructed on top-down command-and control model and corporate structures, remain dominant in the non-profit sector. They often isolate the board and other stakeholders from the activities of the organization and make it difficult to implement effective governance and accountability. The key to addressing this problem is ensuring that models of governance for nonprofits are constructed and used in ways that encourage good governance and strengthen the impact of community-based organizations.

Many nonprofits will start with a main governance model based on Carver’s Board model, but then add additional governance models to meet their needs. Some nonprofits establish a leadership team that assists with fundraising or other responsibilities while others might opt for a management-team governance model to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. A popular trend is to create committees on the board to handle issues like nominations and governance how to host online board meetings as well as risk and finance or executive decisions.

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