Governance: Policy Governance Model


It is important that board members understand the nature of governance in general as well as the particular expectations. One helpful and widely accepted resource is the Policy Governance Model developed by Dr. John Carver. This model is used by businesses, governments and nonprofits. A simple summary consists of the following points:

  • The Board of directors (BOD) will focus on larger issues, delegate with clarity, define the staff and volunteer’s job without meddling, rigorously evaluate the accomplishment of the organization and truly lead the organization.
  • The BOD will separate issues of organizational purpose (ends) from all other organizational issues (means), placing primary importance on those ends. Policy governance boards demand accomplishment of purpose (mission and values), and only limit the staff's/volunteer’s available means to those which do not violate the board's pre-stated standards of prudence, applicable laws, financial accountability and ethics.
  • The BOD will delegate with care, eliminating any confusion about who is responsible to the board or for what board expectations they are responsible.
  • The BOD will hold the staff accountable for properly utilizing all available means to accomplish established ends.
  • The BOD will regularly evaluate itself, the organization, and the staff/volunteers with an analysis of “Have our expectations (established and stated ends) been met?”

For a full description of the Carver Policy Governance model and other resources see: