Book Review

The Handbook of Nonprofit Governance – Book Review

Published: January 30, 2013

Read Time: 3 minutes

Handbook np governance

The Handbook of Nonprofit Governance, published by the American organisation Boardsource, is designed as a one-stop resource on governance for leaders and leadership teams of non-profit organisations.

This book explores the value of governance in non-profit organisations and addresses the crucial roles, relationships, structures and practices involved in their leadership. The book is targeted chiefly at new or inexperienced board members and those with an academic interest in non-profit governance. As a comprehensive overview of a range of governance roles and issues more experienced directors might also find it a useful reference to keep on hand.

The Handbook gathers the expertise of more than 63 Boardsource contributors, bringing together much of the wisdom and insights of past publications into one volume. Boardsource contributors are experienced practitioners, consultants or academics in the field of non-profit governance, many of whom have a particular area of expertise upon which the Boardsource editors have drawn for this publication. The Boardsource editors have succeeded in creating a consistent tone and voice throughout the book despite its contents’ varied sources. However, given that attributions to specific author or authors are only given at the very end of the book, it can be difficult to trace the source of some ideas.

The structure of The Handbook is tried and tested – Boardsource covers the principles and history of non-profit governance in the first part of the book and in the second, addresses specific governance practices. Rather than offering an abridged overview with limited insights, this edited volume takes the time to delve with some specificity into each of its many topics of discourse. Topics covered in the book include legal and ethical responsibilities, financial oversight, strategy, succession planning and advice on the establishment of new organisations. Old hands of the non-profit sphere might find the introductory part of the book too simplistic, however, it is aptly suited to those uninitiated in the ways and workings of non-profit organisations and governance. A generous appendix closes the book, providing additional resources and sample policies.

Although The Handbook of Nonprofit Governance is an American resource it addresses many concerns relevant to Australian organisations and promotes governance as a vital role of non-profit boards. As with all such international texts, it is important to remember that any legal or regulatory guidance should not be taken at face value without seeking professional advice. The Handbook of Nonprofit Governance is a comprehensive text that interacts with a broad range of topics and is suitable for new board members, veteran directors and interested observers. The generous size and breadth of content of this book means that it is probably the most cost-effective Boardsource text available.

Distributed by Jossey-Bass, 2010. 373 pages


Former Researcher
Better Boards

At the time of writing Julia was a writer and researcher at Better Boards. She has a passionate interest in the non-profit sector, particularly its legal and regulatory complexities and she follows all news and developments in this area keenly. Prior to joining Better Boards, Julia served as an intern at Philanthropy Australia. Julia has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne, majoring in Political Science and English Literature.

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