What is a Governing Board? (Overview, Roles, and Responsibilities)

  • By: Josh Palmer
  • September 9, 2022
Governing Board
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Typically, governing boards are responsible for providing direction and oversight of key objectives for nonprofits and corporations.

A traditional board of directors or board of trustees, referred to as a governing board, oversees the operations of a nonprofit or corporation. It holds board meetings to guide strategy, but separate from a working board, the governing board does not handle day-to-day management. Read on to learn more about the key responsibilities of a governing board.

What is a Governing Board?

A governing board is a group of people legally responsible for overseeing and running an institution. It operates under limited board terms, so there is regular turnover within the board. The governing board’s decisions and votes guide the CEO and staff of the organization.

Board Meeting

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Governing Board Roles and Responsibilities

The governing board has defined roles and responsibilities within the relevant organization, including establishing policies, making significant and strategic key decisions, and overseeing the organization’s operations. In addition, the governing board is responsible for the following:

  • Strengthen the organization’s programs and services: Boards determine the right programs to suit the organization’s mission and vision.
  • Provide proper financial oversight: The board establishes a budget and ensures effective internal management of income and expenditures. This prevents financial risks that could affect the overall operations of an organization.
  • Establish the organization’s vision, mission, and purpose: The board helps the founding members write mission and vision statements, and guides the organization to achieving them.
  • Recruit, monitor, and evaluate the chief executive: A governing board identifies, recruits, and appoints the chief executive officer for the organization it oversees. The board also determines the CEO’s job description, ensuring it aligns with the organization’s needs.
  • Ensure the organization has adequate resources: One of the primary duties of a governing board is ensuring the organization has the right resources to achieve its goals. The board decides how to allocate resources to boost the organization’s operations.  
  • Create a strategic plan and ensure adherence: Organizations require strategic plans to run effectively. The governing board is responsible for creating strategic plans and guiding the organization toward achieving its goals.
  • Legal compliance and ethical integrity: Every organization is expected to abide by the rules and laws to avoid fines and penalties. A governing board ensures full compliance with all legal requirements, and explores all measures to avoid issues that could be a risk to the organization

Governing Board Software

A board management portal like OnBoard assists with effective governance, streamlining board meetings and document exchange with the following features, among others. 

Zoom Integration

Board members do not need to be physically present in board meetings. Board management software with Zoom features lets board members hold meetings from anywhere. 

Voting and Approvals

Board management software allows directors to make important decisions anytime. They don’t need to wait until the next meeting to make decisions. The directors and leadership can organize, track, review, comment, and approve decisions anywhere. OnBoard has voting and approval features that give directors instant content-rich information after administrators create approvals. 

Secure Messenger

Board members can quickly start an individual or group direct conversation and bring other members on board at the click of a button. This feature increases engagement and collaboration among board members, creating effective workflows for directors, administrators, executives, and the entire board. 

Agenda Builder

One of the best ways to prepare for a board meeting is by creating agendas that will guide you through the meeting. Quality board management software with an agenda builder feature helps you build agendas, organize documents, and make decisions. It is template-powered and easy to create agendas from scratch. 

Other key features in board management include a minutes builder for live notes during meetings, meeting analytics, and task management to organize and track essential action items. OnBoard is a quality board management solution that helps directors, executives, administrators, and board members fulfill their needs in real-time.

Want to improve your board governance and increase engagement and collaboration? Request a free trial of OnBoard

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Difference Between a Working Board and a Governing Board?

    A working board is a group of directors that oversee strategy like the governing board, but also actively participates in the organization’s day-to-day functions.

  • What is the Importance of a Governing Board?

    The governing board directs the organization's vision, strategies, and policies to help the company meet its goals. 

  • What is the Difference Between a Board of Directors and a Board of Governors?

    In most cases, the board of directors and board of governors share functions. Some organizations have both a board of directors and board of governors. In this case, the board of governors is the controlling board. Governmental, nonprofit, and academic institutions often have a board of governors.

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About The Author

Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.