There are several common types of boards each having distinguishing characteristics:

The collective is a group of people with a shared focus or purpose. They make decisions collectively and each individual represents themselves and their own interests.

Governing boards

The board leads the organization using authority to direct and control provided by the owners and the legal act of formation. They set initial direction and have the full authority to act in the owners’ best interests. Governing boards function at arm’s length from the operational organization. They focus on the big picture, future-oriented and act as a single entity.

Working boards
The board leads the organization but also does double duty as the staff. These are common in very small organizations and community based organizations that do not have the resources to hire employees. Working boards often get caught up in project management and set aside the governing function.

Advisory boards
The board serves to provide insight and perspective to any decision maker including boards. An advisory board typically does not have authority of its own but works to educate some person or body.

Managing boards/Executive boards
A group of people who actually manage the operations as a collective group (instead of a single CEO). They are not the same as a governing board but may work under one. They make the day to day decisions of what gets done and the long term decisions about how to organize operations to achieve the organization’s purpose.

Fund Raising boards
The board is often only a “board” in name alone. Its real purpose is to use its members’ connections and influence to solicit resources for the organization.

Policy board
This is actually more about how the board does its work than a type of board but since you often hear the name we wanted to describe it. A policy board is any board, typically a governing board, that directs operations by developing policies which guide operational decisions rather than making the actual yes or no decision themselves. The CEO is then expected to carry out all policy.