Leading Board Development: Board Governance Committee

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    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, Ph.D., Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

    The vast majority of content on this topic applies to for-profits and nonprofits. This book also covers this topic.

    Developing, Operating and Restoring Your Nonprofit Board - Book Cover

    Overview of a Board Governance Committee

    The job of a Board Development Committee (more progressively referred to as the Board Governance Committee) is to ensure that the operations of the Board are always high quality in meeting all of the responsibilities of a Board of
    Directors. The Committee is similar to the mechanic who ensures that the operations of the automobile are always high-quality, but the mechanic does not always drive the car for the owner. Typical recurring annual priorities of the Governance Committee are to ensure best practices in Board operations, and should include to:

    1. Ensure new Board systems (new members, committees, work plans, etc.) are
    successfully incorporated into Board operations.
    2. Ensure Board is fully resourced to govern the organization.
    3. Ensure full participation and dedication of all Board members to the organization.

    4. Ensure all Board meetings are highly-focused and strategic.
    5. Ensure the Board leadership rigorously monitors the implementation of work plans.
    6. Ensure continuous improvement of the Board.

    The Committee should have a work plan that itemizes these, or very similar, annual goals and also associated objectives with each goal such that when the objectives are achieved in total, they also will have achieved their respective goal. When committees do not have work plans, they often flounder in finding valuable and focused means to provide value to the Board. Unfortunately, in these situations, many Board mistakenly conclude that “committees do not work”, or they reduce the number of committees, thinking that inactive committees were because there were too many — rather than realizing that committees can be extremely useful when focused on the most important annual recurring goals.

    It was common that a Board had a Nominating Committee whose job was to ensure that the Board always had highly suitable candidates and that those candidates were highly equipped to be effective Board members. Many Boards are realizing that that critical role should be closely integrated into all of the very important activities to ensure an overall high-quality Board. Thus, the typical activities of the nomination function are often included in the standard responsibilities of the Governance Committee.

    Additional Perspectives on Governance Committees

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