Board Toolkit

The non-profit sector is defined by the community involvement and ownership that comes from governance through a board of directors. With changing relationships with government, the end of operating agreements, and an increasing need for non-profit housing providers to be self-sustaining, adaptable, and strategic, boards are truly the backbone of the non-profit housing sector and will lead the way in affordable housing provision in Manitoba.

This Board Toolkit has been designed for non-profit housing boards in Manitoba. It summarizes ten functions of the board, along with tools developed and shared by MNPHA Members for the benefit of their colleagues in the sector.

In the first half (1-5) you will find tools for Board Operations, such as policy templates and planning checklists, to get the board well-organized. Topics include: knowing the board’s role; developing policies to govern its behaviour; evaluating its progress and effectiveness; and recruiting, training, evaluating individual board members.

The second half (6-10) you will find tools for Board Governance, which are intended for the board to provide better governance to the organization. Topics include: establishing the organization’s strategic goals; guiding the ED or manager; ensuring financial health; and advocating for the mission.

This is an ever-growing toolkit on Board Governance for non-profit housing providers. If you have a good resource such as a board or operational policy template, or you’d like to suggest one, please contact us.

Some resources are password protected. Due to costs involved in creating them, they are available for MNPHA members only. If you are a member and need a password, contact us.

Download Instructions

Printer-friendly Index

1.Understand Board Basics

Board Roles and Responsibilities
Board Orientation

Summary: Board Orientation

Sample: Index for a Board Manual

This sample can serve as a checklist for the board to organize all of the important documents in one place and ensure all members have access to them. You can pick the ones that are relevant to your organization and add to it based on your needs. There are samples of some of the items in the index later on in this toolkit.

Essential Corporate Documents

Workbook: Understanding Your Corporate Documents (The Muttart Foundation) - (pdf)

Workbook: Organize Your Corporate Documents (The Muttart Foundation) - (pdf)

By-Laws

Many non-profit housing By-Laws were created at the time the organization was created and first signed an operating agreement, and have not been updated since. It may be time for an update! As a governing legal document, include the most important practices you are committed to into the document so the “logistics” of running your organization are clearly articulated, well-organized, and simplified. Other practices that will likely change from time-to-time can be part of board policy, rather than by-laws. There are two versions of sample by-laws for your reference – one is minimalistic and should be paired with policies; the other is quite detailed covering many regulations for housing providers but requiring regular review to ensure accuracy. Note that these samples are for a general non-profit corporation, and not relevant for all legal structures (co-ops or life leases).

(A number of selective documents are exclusive to MNPHA members. Please request a password at [email protected])

Sample: By-Laws (Minimalistic with Simplified Membership Structure)(member-only)

Summary: Rationale for Using Simplified Membership Structure (member-only)

This document is compatible with the simplistic By-Law template, and outlines the rationale for some non-profit corporations to change their membership structure to only include members of the board.

Sample By-Laws (Detailed)

Key Facts: By-Laws

The By-Laws contain crucial legal information but can be dry reading. It is common to ask new board members to “jump onto the wagon” and learn as they go, without reading these documents. A Key Facts page highlighting important numbers and dates can be a good tool for quick reference.

2. Develop Board Policies

3. Conduct Effective Board and Annual General Meetings

Board Meetings

As the boardroom is the formal place where the board acts on its authority, a focused, well planned, and effectively executed meeting is the crux of decision making.

Tips: Successful Board Meeting
Checklist: Board Meeting (for ED/Management Company)
Template: Agenda
Template: Meeting Minutes

Annual Meeting
4. Build a Competent Board

Board Evaluation

While serving on a board is an important responsibility, board members should not consider their role a chore. Time spent on the board should be a rewarding and satisfying experience. Self-evaluations should uncover the health of the board member's attitude toward the role.

Depending on your board's preference, here are three sample surveys:

Survey-Board Self-Evaluation (v1)

Survey-Board Self-Evaluation (v2)

Survey-Board Self-Evaluation (v3)

Board training opportunities
Understanding Non-Profit Housing

Residential Tenancy Branch

Articles

The Manitoba Collaborative Data Portal

The MbCDP portal provides a knowledge base on Housing and Homelessness for Winnipeg and Manitoba in order to engage and educate the public, and to inform policies and programs.

5. Succession Planning

Intro to Succession Planning
How to advertise a Board Position

Tips: Creating and Posting a Board Job Description
Sample: Board Job Description

How to Select the Right Board Member
6. Determine Mission, Conduct Strategic Planning and Evaluate Business Model
The Board is responsible for ensuring the organization is unified and motivated under a clear, concise, and compelling mission.
Through strategic planning, the board and staff translate the mission into goals and action plans to focus energy and resources.

Strategic Planning
Case studies: different business models

The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association has summarized eight unique initiatives in Ontario that have helped diverse low- and moderate-income people find and keep a home that meets their needs. Take a look at their business model and the innovations. In each profile, there are also relevant template and tools.

Innovations in Housing Stability (ONPHA)

7. Select and Support Management
The board is responsible to recruit and retain an effective leader, which is a critical factor to the success of the organization. Board Members should oversee and provide personal and organizational support for executives, including evaluating performance and acknowledging strong service through compensation.

Governance vs. Management
Human Resources Tools
8. Oversee Operations
The Board is responsible to ensure the current and proposed programs and services align with the organization’s mission and mandate. Board members should have substantial knowledge about the organization’s programs and services. As part of a “eyes-on, hands-off” approach, the way that a board oversees operations is through asking questions about and possibly approving operational policies.

Keep Informed of Property Management
Operational Policies

Here is an expanding list of recommended housing policies:

If you would like to request a sample policy of a certain topic, please contact Christina at [email protected]

9. Protect Assets, Oversee Finances and Manage Risks
The Board is responsible for safeguarding the organization’s assets, identifying risks, and ensuring adequate funds. Board members should be able to interpret financial reports and identify red-flags.

10. Build Partnerships, Advocate for Mission, and Enhance Public Standing
Board members should share the good work of their organization and board among their networks, acting as ambassadors and housing advocates. Together with management, the Board strategically communicates the organization’s story and aspirations to motivate policy-makers and leverage resources.