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Governance for Not for Profit Organisations

Governance is the underlying framework in accordance with which a group of people makes and takes action for a shared purpose. Good governance is primarily aimed at ensuring good outcomes in terms of the purposes for which the association was created.

Governance Standards 8000-2003 were developed to provide ‘a blueprint for the development and implementation of a generic system of governance suitable for a wide range of entities’ including not for profit organisations.

Governance addresses issues such as how the organisation communicates, is directed and makes decisions. It is important that organisations operate in a legal and ethical manner. Decisions need to be made in the interests of eligible stakeholders and the organisation must behave as a good corporate citizen.

Good governance ensures clarity of roles and responsibilities; accountability through appropriate systems; and
effective and open decision-making and management processes.

In the not-for-profit sector many organisations are now delivering social services that were previously delivered by government. As a result, governance issues are more important than ever.

Your organisation’s governance requirements are set out in a number of places including your organisation’s
Constitution, Rules and legislation.

In addition, good governance requires:

  • participation of members, staff and other stakeholders;
  • the Board to create/maintain a positive culture that promotes openness and honesty;
  • the Board to develop a vision and strategic plan in consultation with relevant stakeholders;
  • that all Board members are duly elected or constitutionally co-opted;
  • that the Board makes valid decisions in the best interests of the organisation taking into account members and other stakeholders;
  • policies and activities be consistent with and further the constitution;
  • processes for dealing with complaints by members, staff, or clients which cannot be resolved by staff and management;
  • a management structure which facilitates open communication between all parts of the organisation; and co-operation with other organisations in the sector.  

More Governance tools and resources:

ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations

 Good Governance Principles & Guidance for NFP Organisations

Board Essentials

Conflict of Interest

Governance Institute of Australia Good Governance Guides

In the non-profit world, the ideal to be aimed at is governance in the sense of dedicated care balanced with the liberty of the organisation’s management to operate freely in a positive, supportive environment.

 Pasquale Ferraro, Deputy Director, International Development Law Institute




Support for Boards and Committees

WACOSS provides support to Boards and Committee's and senior management of not for profit organisations through development of resources, provision of information, confidential one on one support and training and consultancy services.

For more information on any of these services follow the links below.

Governance Workshops

Consultancy Services

Managment Support Online