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Governance & Board Development

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. People who have superpowers as individuals can find it challenging to participate in group decision making.

The first step to attracting a great board is to define the difference in roles between governance and management and to create a partnership between the ED/CEO and the board.

The second step is to set in place processes and operating policies that will make your board more efficient and less vulnerable to problem board members.

Once these are in place, 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 the corporation.

How It Works

501 Commons staff consultants and service corps members can provide a full array of consulting services to support your board. We provide customized consultations and specialized board services, described in more detail at the links below.

  • Board Assessment: A confidential assessment process can help you determine how satisfied members are with board processes, and identify opportunities to increase board effectiveness.
  • Financial Fitness for Boards: This training session, which is customized for your organization, includes a complete financial fitness assessment. The training will 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, the approach to board governance called 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.


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.