With the Complementary Model of Board Governance, we see the roles and responsibilities of staff being very different from the roles and responsibilities of the volunteer directors. In most smaller organizations, Volunteer Directors want to get involved, they want to be part of the Association so they volunteer to serve on the Board and what ends up happening is a lot of those boards are known as Working Boards.

What we mean by Working Boards is the President, the Vice-President or Chair, Vice-Chair, however, you call them depending on the organization, they roll up their sleeves and they’re doing all of the work.

The Treasurer is actually preparing the financial statements and keeping track of the books. The Secretary is the one who’s taking the minutes at meetings. So everybody is working very hard on the operations, the actual running of the not-for-profit organization, which is all well and good if you’re a small society.

For smaller organization there might not be a whole lot to do and maybe a not a whole lot of members, but as that organization evolves and grows and the scope of work broadens, now it’s time to hire paid staff.

You would usually start by hiring your first staff person which might be an office manager, an admin person either part-time or full-time, all the way up to a full-fledged Executive Director or Registrar or CEO or General Manager or whatever you want to call them.

But best practices in North America would be a CEO or Executive Director so that it’s consistent with the corporate world because what they do is exactly the same.

Then, the Board is responsible for establishing governance policies and strategic planning and then you leave the operational, administrative, policies to the Executive Director otherwise known as the Chief Staff Officer who handles that handles recruitment, hiring and firing, employee relations etc. The board only has one employee and that would be the ED/ CEO. So that’s where the division of duties comes in when it comes to the Complementary Model of Board Governance.

About Tom (TJ) Abbott

Tom (TJ) Abbott, CSP is the Managing Director of AMC NPO Solutions and an authority on Governance. He has over 25 years experience as CEO, President and board director of several not-for-profit organizations. Tom has also spoken in over 20 countries.


Principles of Complementary Governance Booklet

10 Principles of Complementary Governance