Not-for-profit organizations' board policies and procedures are key to the motivation, transparency, accountability and communication needed to make and carry out decisions. Model policies and procedures provide guidance but should still be adjusted to fit each organization's particularities in order to be useful.
Board Policies and Procedure
Board procedures refer to operations such as meetings, retreats and orientation, whereas a board policy governs how board members work together, including frequency of meetings, confidentiality, how to ensure attendance, recruit new board members, or work with the executive director. Board policy also includes how to create and maximize benefit from committees or advisory boards.
Board Committees and Advisory Committees
Board committees can engage board members in issues that best match their skills and resources to the organization's needs while advisory committees, sometimes known as advisory boards or advisory groups, can be used to channel advice on a specific issue from individuals who aren't on the board. Committees need clear, useful, reasonable purposes and goals specific to an organization in order to avoid member frustration and wasted resources.
Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest policy provides guidelines to sift through the ambiguity when an individual's interests may be at odds with the organization's interests in order to make an informed decision. This can include requiring disclosure of relevant information, withdrawing from decisions that may create a conflict and creating procedures to ensure that bids or hiring is competitive. Many experts advise including this in the organization's bylaws in order to give them more legal weight and ensure that they don't conflict with state statutes.
A writer since 2005, Elizabeth Ontaneda is a planner and consultant specializing in housing and organizational development. She has developed training curricula and written materials for the nonprofit Urban Homesteading Assistance Board and has presented at the Annual Conference of the Council of New York City Cooperatives and Condominiums. She holds a Master of Science in urban development planning from University College London.