Governance Hints
Governance Hints are designed for the time-poor board member who needs some simple, clear and practical advice to deal with a range of governance issues.



To provide the newly-elected board member with sufficient information regarding the area in which the nonprofit operates so that he/she can function effectively as a member of the board within six months of the beginning of his or her term.


  • Understand the Mission and its importance in decision making.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the major and general issues associated with the sector.
  • Participate in board discussions regarding the mission, vision values and strategic plan of the organization.
  • Describe the roles and responsibilities of a board member.
  • Describe the structure of the board and the purpose of each board committee.
  • Understand the financial status of the organisation.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the current issues which affect the organisation.
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the programs and service offered by the organisation.

Suggested Topics

  • Mission, vision, values and strategic plan of the organisation.
  • State of the industry and the major issues facing it.
  • Roles and responsibilities of a board member.
  • Governance responsibilities of the board.
  • Overview of the strategic plan which shows how the plan is developed, updated and monitored and how it guides decision making.
  • Structure of the board, constitution and purpose of board committees.
  • Organisational structure and role of executive staff.
  • Programs and services offered by the organisation. (Utilise input from staff and volunteers at the “coal face”. Get these individuals to address the board when a new member is being oriented.)
  • Tour of the organisation, if appropriate.


Ensure there is feedback from the participants of the orientation process. Get them to identify what they found useful and what they did not. Ascertain if there are topics/issues they would have liked included.