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Governance Applications Comparisons

Comparing Policy Governance against traditional governance applications.

  Traditional Nonprofit Policy Governance® Executive Centered Working Board Corporate Collective
Board Functions (development, recruitment, structure, etc.) Board directed, Executive driven Board Executive Board Either Shared
Board Process (how the board does its work) Board Board Executive Board Either Shared
Managing the Business Board delegates to Executive but stays involved in operating detail Executive Executive Board directly involved Executive with close board oversight Primarily executive but board may help
Doing the Work Staff Staff Staff Board Staff Staff/Board
Setting Direction Board sets direction with Executive guidance, board or committee often creates the plan Board defines expected results, executive develops the plan (figures out how) within limits set by board Executive Board defines big picture and operational detail Board with executive leadership Board with executive direction
Representing Membership Board Board Board Board Focus on outcomes and performance (ROI), not representation Board
  Traditional Nonprofit Policy Governance® Executive Centered Working Board Corporate Collective
Executive/Board Relationship Executive subordinate to Board, relationship not explicitly addressed Explicit division, interactions clearly defined, executive subordinate to board, board sets parameters Board de facto subordinate to Executive because they control process and direction Executive subordinate to Board, relationship not explicitly addressed, much cross-over Executive sits on board, plays leadership role, roles not explicitly addressed and sometimes cross over but rarely does the board get involved in operations Partnership, Executive pilots the board, relationship not explicitly addressed
Committees Do much of work and oversight, report to board, extensive committee structure supported by staff, board receives reports Relatively few, task forces okay, only do work related to the board, operational committees report to the CEO/ED ? Committees support work of operations, board member workload heavier Often task forces on strategic issues, some committees ?
Board Role Direction, oversight of operations, fund raising Primary role to establish policies on ends, executive limits, board/executive relationship, board process. Final decision maker on issues brought forth by executive All issues, strategic and operational Strategic issues, major operational issues Final decisions on matters, monitors operations
  Traditional Nonprofit Policy Governance® Executive Centered Working Board Corporate Collective
Executive Role Guidance to the board, management of the business Responsible to the board, not for it. Operational issues, strategic and tactical decisions Fundamental role guide and manage the board If exists, implement board decisions Leads direction and operations Guides the board, manages operations
Fiduciary Responsibility Board, but the control of it is delegated to the Executive Board Board, but the executive has control of the mechanisms Board Board, but the executive has control of the mechanisms Board, but the executive has control of the mechanisms
Fiduciary Responsibility Board, but the control of it is delegated to the Executive Board Board, but the executive has control of the mechanisms Board Board, but the executive has control of the mechanisms Board, but the executive has control of the mechanisms
Financial Decisions Treasurer and Finance Committee set procedures and oversee, full board reviews full financials CEO/ED has full decision making within the limits set by the board CEO/ED makes decisions, may or may not require board approval of budget Board is largely in control of all financial decisions CEO/ED led, board approval of major decisions Board and staff work on financial matters as a team
Human Resources Board sets personnel policy, ED/CEO reports to Chair, communication between Chair and CEO ED reports to full board only, all staff report to CEO/ED, personnel policy is operating policy and set by CEO/ED ED/CEO controls and sets policy Board is personnel, sets policy, CEO reports to Chair or full board and may be on the board CEO controls HR, reports to board but also often is Chair Human Resource decision are made as a team, reporting lines obscure
  Traditional Nonprofit Policy Governance® Executive Centered Working Board Corporate Collective
Monitoring for Accountability Committee oversight Executive limitations, aggressive executive evaluation Executive brings information forward to the Board Board, if at all Executive brings information forward to the Board Executive brings information forward, board inquires into areas of concern
Resource Securing Board CEO/ED (board optional) Either Board Executive Shared
Decision Making Power Board with Executive input Clear division of authority between board and executive, each free in their own areas (but can choose to seek input from each other) Board has final say but agenda and preferences driven by executive Board, often uses grassroots or collective method of problem solving Board has final say but agenda and preferences often driven by executive Shared

Sources:       

Wm. A. Brown, Understanding Organizational Configuration and Models of Board Governance in Nonprofit Organizations, 2000

Kathleen Fletcher, Four Books on Nonprofit Boards and Governance, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Summer 1999

Linda George, Board Models Comparison Chart, in Board Basics Manual, United Way of Canada