Good Governance - A Guide for Directors of Canadian foundations (Philanthropic Foundations Canada, Revised 2014)

The bible for Canadian foundations. 

Governing for Results – A Director’s Guide to Good Governance, by Mel Gill, Synergy Associates, Trafford Publishing 2005. 
A user-friendly guide that adds perspective to the debate about governance models and offers guidance to board members with respect to board structure, responsibilities, governance practices and problems that commonly afflict boards. 

Principles for Good Governance: A Guide for Charities and Foundations by The Panel on the Nonprofit Sector, and the Principles Workbook: Steering Your Board Toward Good Governance and Ethical Practices (2009).

An American guide and workbook for board members and staff leaders of charitable organizations as they work to improve their own operations.

Trustee Handbook: Roles and duties of trustees of charitable trusts and foundations in Australia, 2nd edition, May 2013 by David Ward, Philanthropy Australia Inc.

Available free from Philanthropy Australia at


Imagine Canada Standards Handbook, Imagine Canada, 2012.

Imagine Canada’s Standards Program offers a Canada-wide set of shared standards for charities and nonprofits. See Section A for 24 standards of Board Governance. Available free from 


The Legal Duties of Directors of Charities and Not-for-Profits by Terrance Carter and Jacqueline Demczur, October 2012.



The following is a series of handbooks available to purchase from the American organization, BoardSource 

Available at:


Govern More, Manage Less: Harnessing the Power of Your Non-profit Board, by Cathy Trower, second edition, Boardsource Governance Series, 2010.

The Handbook of Nonprofit Governance, BoardSource, 2010.
A comprehensive guide that explores the principles and practices followed by effective nonprofit boards.


Board Fundamentals: Understanding Roles in Nonprofit Governance, by Lakey Berit, second edition, 2010, Boardsource

A description of the nonprofit sector, a discussion of the concept of governance, an in-depth look at the key governance roles and responsibilities of the board and the individuals involved in organizational governance, and suggestions on how the board can most effectively carry out its responsibilities.


Boardroom Chemistry: Getting Your Board To Govern as a Team, BoardSource 2010
Twenty four tools designed to help your board function more effectively by focusing on Board composition (and the role played by board size and diversity); Board structure (such as term limits and how structure can enhance or inhibit teambuilding); Ways to engage detached board members; Decision-making and other meeting practices; and listening skills and use them to resolve conflicts.


Operations and Grantmaking


Good Grantmaking: A Guide for Canadian Foundations, by Patrick Johnston, Philanthropic Foundations Canada, 2012.

This guide, written by an experienced grantmaker, is full of stories and practical examples from Canadian foundations of all sizes. It is designed to help you to: better understand the key steps in the grantmaking cycle; assess and develop your own grantmaking practices; and optimize the quality of your relationships with grantees and the effectiveness of your grants management. 

Available at: 

Finance and Investment


Strong Foundations: Strategies to Help Endowments and Foundations Achieve Excellence in Investment and Spending Governance, Janet Rabovsky , August 2009 

The Roles and Responsibilities’ of Investment Committees of Not-for-Profit Organizations, by Joshua Mintz, July 2009

Family Dynamics

Discretionary Grants: Encouraging Participation… or Dividing Families?
This Passages issue paper by the National Center for Family Philanthropy looks at the common reasons that families use or opt not to use discretionary grants, and the typical process that is used to make these types of grants. Also learn how different approaches to discretionary grants can support or hinder the work of the foundation.

Available to purchase from:


Managing Conflicts and Family Dynamics in your Family’s Philanthropy, National Center for Family Philanthropy
This Passages issue paper defines conflict in family philanthropy and describes how conflicts typically surface in families that give; offers advice and guidance from experts on how to manage these conflicts; shares stories of families who have experienced conflict and describes how they have addressed this conflict; and suggests resources for further reading and skill building in this area.

Available to purchase from

"It's not what you get out of life that counts,

but what you put into it."


- George H. Morris

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