Nonprofit organizations adopt various models of governance, depending on its size and the overall cultural, political, and economic contexts. Every nonprofit organization is unique and deals with unique circumstances. Therefore, it is not surprising that models of governance vary.
Traditional Board: The traditional model of governance in nonprofit organizations involves a board that oversees programs, projects, and services through various committees. Most nonprofit organizations will have committees on finance and on specific projects or programs. Each nonprofit board determines how many committees are necessary and what types of committees to institute. Sometimes, new nonprofit organizations try to adopt the governance model of a well-established nonprofit organization, and feel very disappointed at the end, because such models may not fit their purposes.
Micro-management Board: The micromanagement board oversees all the activities of the organization and performs tasks that should be handled by management or staff. A micro-management board can be very detrimental to the growth of a nonprofit organization. Management and staff can become very frustrated because they lose the ability to make even the smallest decisions.
Cooperative Board: The cooperative board works in collaboration with management and staff. The board makes decisions that are consequential for the future of the organization and provides flexibility for management to make technical decisions for which the board may not have the time or expertise.
Delegational Board: As the name indicates, the delegational board assumes its oversight responsibilities by delegating specific tasks to special committees. The committees are formed based on various strategic or programmatic areas of the organization. The board delegates management responsibilities and decisions to the executive directors between two board meetings. In other words, any decision that must be made immediately is carried out by the executive director. There may be times when the executive director has to make a decision pending board approval or refrain from making a decision until board approval.
Representational Board: The representational board uses a bottom-up approach to balance the decisions of a nonprofit organization with inputs received from various constituents. The representational board tends to lengthen its decision-making process by providing its constituents an opportunity to voice their approval or their concerns before a final deliberation.
Outcomes-Oriented Board: The outcomes-oriented board focuses primarily on the performance and results produced by management and staff with respect to strategic and programmatic goals and objectives. The outcomes-oriented board allows flexibility for the executive director and management to make policy decisions, but holds them accountable through audit and outcome-based assessments. The outcomes-oriented board tends to maintain governance through various project-based or problem-based committees.
Strategic Board: The strategic board focuses primarily on making strategic policy decisions. Examples of strategic decisions include organizational vision and mission statements, mandates, budgets, priorities, and policies that define the extent and limitations of the relationship between the board and the executive director.
Advisory Board: An advisory board is usually selected by the executive director. In most cases, an advisory board is selected to provide legitimacy to the decisions made by the executive director. In that context, the power of governance resides in the executive director, not in the board, which plays a superficial role in the operations of the organization.