The Ins and Outs of Board Governance

Debbie“Impact100 certainly does have an impact on this community.”  These were the opening remarks by presenter Deborah Levy as she addressed a much-larger-than-expected crowd that gathered at Vintage House on November 12th for Impact100’s second educational symposium for nonprofits – “The Ins and Outs of Board Governance.”

The audience was immediately engaged in an interactive and informative program in which they were encouraged to ask questions as well as offer solutions to common (and sometimes challenging) organizational situations.  With more than 35 years of experience in nonprofit management (see bio below), Debbie repeatedly emphasized the need for clarity of roles and responsibilities of board members, the CEO/Executive Director, and staff.  Topics included board structure, recruitment, orientation, and engagement; the role of committees; setting goals; making decisions vs. recommendations; fund-raising; and the importance of some sort of strategic plan to assure that everyone is on the same page.

group 1Recognizing the wisdom and experiences of the audience, Debbie also provided an opportunity for them to share their expertise.  Attendees broke into six small working groups, and each group was assigned a scenario to discuss and “resolve” within a five-minute time frame.  Scenarios included how to deal with dominating personalities on the board, how to activate all board members, retaining board members, fund-raising, and managerial problems such as micro-management.  Discussions were lively and solutions helpful and thoughtful indicating that such scenarios were not unfamiliar.

group 3group 2


Debbie distributed a number of hand-outs for the attendees and graciously provided a copy of her powerpoint slides, all available here:
Board Training powerpoint presentation
Board Manual Table of Contents
Board Training Impact 100 2015
Role of Board or Staff exercise

Sample Board Matrix
Sample Board Member Job Description
Vision of Effective Board Roles
Template for Annual Committee Goals
Finance Committee Description

Fundraising Committee description
Governance Committee Job Description

The next Impact100 Sonoma meeting for nonprofits will focus on grant applications and review process for 2016.  The workshop will take palce on December 4th from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm at the Sonoma Valley Library.

Bio: Deborah Levy, MSW, has over 35 years of experience in nonprofit management. Since 2008, she has been a consultant to nonprofits with a particular interest in organizational and program development, assessments, board development and strategic planning. Before developing her consulting business, Debbie was President and CEO of Lifehouse for 18 years. Previous to that she served as the CEO of the Northern California Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as well as working with National headquarters to provide fundraising consulting services to chapters across the country on a part-time basis.  Her website =

Photos provided by Celia Canfield.