Broad enough to cover the main bits; small enough to keep people’s interest
Recently, we’ve been asked to review the Governance Manuals and Standing Orders for several non-profit Boards. Not all organisations have them, but they can form a useful bridge between what you must do (as stated in your constitution document) and what you choose to do, to help things run smoothly, and to support boardroom effectiveness. The secret is to keep them as brief as possible, so that people read them and remember them. Ensure sections aren’t repeated unnecessarily, as this risks losing the reader’s attention.
Did you know? Members of the Leading Governance Website get access to all the documents needed to create their own Governance Manual, plus much more. Click here to read more about it and click here to get your membership and get instant access.
What should a Governance Manual include?
If you decide to have a Governance Manual, it can be a very helpful induction tool, as well as providing a reminder to experienced Board members, as it often includes:
- Fundamental building blocks – constitution document, strategic plan, business plan, risk register
- Role descriptions – for the board, board members, chair, CEO, company secretary
- Terms of Reference for committees, eg Audit & Risk, Nominations & Remuneration
- Key policies at board level, eg Conflicts of Interest, Gifts & Hospitality
- Schedule of Matters Reserved to the Board, Scheme of Delegation, Process for Urgent Decisions
- Board Code of Conduct, processes for board recruitment, induction, development, review
- Governance action plan, board training plan
If you decide instead to develop a set of Standing Orders, what goes into them? A brief set might include:
- Terms of reference for the board
- Processes for meetings, including quorum (if the constitution allows for board decision on this)
- Conduct of meetings, members, delegated groups
- Processes for appointment of leaders and office bearers
- Delegated authorities
- Processes for amending the Standing Orders
Bear in mind that most non-profit boards rely on people giving their time to the role without payment. If we want to keep them motivated and engaged, we need to provide them with useful guidance but, like fabulous movie trailer, keep it brief!
Some useful reading –
- How to Lead: Wisdom from the World’s Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers (Free with Audible free trial)
- The New Directors Handbook: How to become more confident, more effective, more quickly
- Risk Management for Company Executives
- Fundamentals of Enterprise Risk Management: How Top Companies Assess Risk, Manage Exposure, and Seize Opportunity
Did you know?
You can join the Leading Governance website as a member? Members get access to thousands of pounds worth of essential Governance materials to build their own Governance Manuals, from Sample Board Agendas to Board Member Review templates and much more (see our video here)! Click here to see more about Membership and join our community.
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