Governance for community organisations

The term 'governance' refers to a not-for-profit community organisation's board and its collective legal responsibility as an incorporated association, company limited by guarantee or cooperative.

Essential elements of good governance are:

  • Good governance structure
  • Good policies, processes and procedures
  • The right mix of people on boards or committees of management.

Governance Capability Framework

The 'Community Sector Governance Capability Framework' describes the broad capabilities required by people on boards or committees of management in community sector organisations.

It provides board or committee members with a common language for the knowledge and skills that are critical for the stewardship of an organisation. It also includes knowledge and skills required for particular roles on the board, such as that of board chair.

Case studies on how to use the Governance Capability Framework

Organisations which have implemented components of the Governance Capability Framework and have agreed to share their experience in the case studies below.

These organisations were selected for their diversity to demonstrate the framework’s application to not-for-profit organisations, large and small, providing services to a cross section of Victorians. The report provides an overview of the key findings and a listing of organisations that provide governance resourcing, training and support to the not for profit sector.

Governance Capability Framework facilitators tools

The facilitators tools have been developed for use by a facilitator who could be:

  • The board chair
  • Another member of the board who has an interest in governance
  • Someone brought in by the board to coordinate and assist a review of governance capabilities.
  • Organisations or websites that can assist with governance

    Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission
    Target Group: All registered charities
    The Commonwealth independent national regulator of charities.

    Australian Institute of Company Directors
    Target Group: Larger Not-for-profits (NFP)
    A member-based, NFP organisation. Principal activities include education; conducting professional development programs and events for boards and directors; producing publications on director and governance issues; and developing and promoting policies on issues of interest to directors.

    Australian Sports Commission
    Target Group: Sporting NFP organisations
    Provides sports governance principles, which can assist boards of sporting organisations to develop, implement and maintain a robust system of governance that fits the particular circumstances of their sport.
     
    Board Connect
    Target Group: All NFPs
    A Queensland based independent non-profit entity providing resources and supports nationally to boards of non-profit organisations. Conducts board reviews, has a confidential information line that can provide preliminary information and referral and has a wide range of fact sheets and publications.

    Consumer Affairs Victoria
    Target Group: All NFP incorporated associations 
    Provides a range of resources and training programs to assist executives of NFP incorporated associations meet their legislative and regulatory obligations under the Associations Incorporations Reform Act (2012).

    Good Company
    Target Group: All NFPs
    A volunteer matching website where community organisations can list their requirements and skilled volunteers can identify the type of organisation and work that best suits their interests and expertise.

    Governance & Management Pty Ltd
    Target Group: All NFPs
    Provides online and subscription based resources to the boards of NFP organisations in Australia.

    Governance Institute of Australia
    Target Group: Larger NFPs
    Conducts accredited and internationally recognised education and training courses to skill board members to improve their organisation’s performance.
     
    Justice Connect- Not for Profit Law
    Target Group: All NFPs (some services particularly suited to small ‘public interest’ groups)
    An independent, NFP organisation providing training and resources to NFP organisations. It maintains a legal information web portal with free, plain language resources across the lifecycle of an NFP.

    They deliver training in Melbourne and throughout regional Victoria and can also discuss individual arrangements.

    Justice Connect also provide direct legal assistance to eligible NFPs by way of a telephone advice service and pro bono referral services.

    Leadership Plus
    Target Group: Organisations seeking diversity on their boards and committees
    People with a disability can participate in a 12 month formal leadership program that builds their skills and capacity to take on leadership roles, including governance roles.

    The program sources expertise from tertiary institutions and other specialist organisations to deliver specific governance training where required.

    Organisational consultancy is also provided to assist boards to develop inclusive practices and foster diversity of members. People with disabilities deliver key components of the program with organisations coached on strategies to ensure people with a disability can contribute equitably.

    Leadership Victoria
    Target Group: New and experienced board members 
    Conducts board leadership training programs.
     
    Matrix on Board
    Target Group: All NFPs; specialist indigenous finance program
    Provides financial management, management support and training and development to NFPs across Australia.

    Monash Professional Pathways
    Target Group: International students
    Arranges internships and professional year programs for international students and graduates. These internships are custom-designed in a large range of fields.

    Neighbourhood Houses Victoria
    Target Group: Neighbourhood Houses
    Neighbourhood Houses Victoria provides strategic leadership for Neighbourhood Houses in Victoria, supporting members with effective state-wide advocacy, quality research, and timely advice on relevant policy and legislative developments.

    Not for Profit Compliance Support Centre
    Target Group: All Victorian NFP organisations
    This website is an online information resource for Victorian NFPs to assist them to comply with regulatory requirements. 

    Our Community
    Target Group: All NFPs, particularly small ones
    Provides accredited training, half-day workshops and conferences designed specifically for the staff, volunteers, board/committee members, and supporters of Australian community organisations.

    ProBono Australia
    Target Group: All  NFPs
    Provides an online hub for the NFP sector to source and advertise for volunteers, employment opportunities, resources and events.

    Various local governments
    Target Group: Small NFPs located within the municipality
    Some local governments conduct governance training to support and resource local clubs and groups to fulfil their statutory obligations and enable them to continue receiving local government resources for services and facilities (e.g. subsidised rent on premises, access to community grants).

    VCOSS Training and Development Clearinghouse
    Target Group: All NFPs
    A centralised repository including information for NFPs wanting to engage a skilled volunteer; a calendar of low cost training, conferences, seminars and events.

    VicHealth
    Target Group: Community organisations delivering health and well-being programs
    Offers training designed to build skills of all stakeholders in the delivery of health initiatives and is open to board and committee members.
     
    Vicsport
    Target Group: Sporting NFP organisations
    Vicsport in conjunction with VicHealth has developed the Good Governance Tool Kit. This provides practical information and templates for boards, chairs, CEO’s and other key figures responsible for governance in sporting organisations. Vicsport also provides training workshops for administrators and volunteers.

    Victoria University Indigenous Governance
    Target Group: Primarily indigenous students, but open to all
    Victoria University Indigenous Governance offers a Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance for students from indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

    Victorian Managed Insurance Authority
    Target Group: NFPs with Victorian Government funding
    The insurer for all of the Victorian Government’s assets and provides coverage for NFPs that receive government funding. Training is provided to eligible organisations state-wide on best practice in risk management.

    Victorian Public Sector Commission
    Target Group: Government and statutory authorities
    Has developed a range of governance publications targeting the public sector that are also of relevance to the NFPs.

    Victorian Regional Community Leadership Programs 
    Target Group: All NFPs in regional Victoria
    Designed to develop and engage leaders from diverse backgrounds.
     
    Volunteering Victoria
    Target Group: Organisations with volunteers
    Provides training services to ensure up-to-date skills for volunteer program managers or coordinators, including standards and best practice frameworks and guidance in practical application of the National Standards for Involving Volunteers in not-for-profit Organisations.

    Women on Boards
    Target Group: All women seeking board membership
    Strives to improve the gender balance on Australian boards. This is through partnerships with corporate, government and non-profit sectors to:

    • Hold events
    • Host programs
    • Create opportunities for women
    • Coach and mentor women into career and director roles.