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Board Governance

Assemble the right leaders to govern your organization

An effective, well-functioning board of directors is essential to every nonprofit. Whether you need help developing your board, clarifying roles, or facilitating a retreat, we can help! Putting together a dynamic board focused on governance is a tall order for many nonprofits. Even the best boards need a tune-up from time to time and even superhero individuals can find it challenging to participate in group decision making.

Step 1: Define the difference in roles between governance and management and to create a partnership between the ED/CEO and the board. This will help you attract competent board members.

Step 2:  Put operating policies and processes in place so your board  meetings are efficient and less vulnerable to problem board members.

501 Commons can show you how to recruit quality board members, plan more interesting and focused board meetings and board retreats, and ensure that your board members have the information and skills they need to govern your organization.

How It Works

Based on the needs identified by the board, we can provide customized consultations and board educational services.

Here are some service options:

  • A confidential assessment process can help you determine how satisfied members are with board processes, and identify opportunities to increase board effectiveness.
  • If you need to reshape or grow your board, we can help you define the characteristics, skills, and relationships you need board members to bring to the organization. Then we will help you develop a plan for board recruitment.
  • We can craft board operating policies and procedures that will reduce the time it takes staff to support the board while improving the experience for board members.
  • We can help a board plan for executive transition, develop an ED contract and have a clear process for evaluating the CEO or executive director.

Additionally, we can develop specialized training and board education programs and deliver those directly to your full board. Then everyone is getting the same information and it's easier to change the board's practices and culture.

Some of the board education and trainings available are:

  • Financial Fitness for Boards — We can help everyone on your board understand how to provide effective financial oversight.
  • Policy governance—Informational sessions and consulting support is available for boards using, or interested in using, Policy Governance® or the Carver model. Several members of our Executive Service Corps are graduates of the Policy Governance Academy.
  • Meeting and retreat facilitation—A retreat can revitalize a board or feel like a waste of time. Our experienced facilitators can help you accomplish the goals of your retreat, balance the preferences of various board members, and enjoy the day.
  • Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign? (Developed by Campbell & Company for 501 Commons)


A well structured board will create the right environment for busy board members and attract members who have the connections and skills you need.

501 Commons can help you ensure that your board is clear about its role and has procedures for how the board is going to operate. We can help establish a partnership with the ED/CEO that allows that person to take action. As a result, the organization will be able to make better decisions more quickly and use the talents of its board members and ED/CEO more effectively.