Nonprofit Board Chief Governance Officer (CGO)

A Leadership and Capacity Building Research Initiative of the Center for Social Sector Leadership at the Berkeley Haas School of Business.
CGO Governance Checklist

Governance is often an ephemeral topic, so much so that many directors have very different working definitions. In recent research summarized in “Does Your Nonprofit Board Need a CGO?” we heard that a comprehensive list of governance quality questions could help nonprofit Boards assess and improve their performance. In response, we compiled a working list of questions that cover the range of board responsibilities usually associated with effective nonprofit governance.

Consider using these questions to assess your own Board’s governance performance. In many ways, the length of the list is itself a testament to the challenges and growing complexity of nonprofit governance. Download the Governance Checklist here.
Nonprofit Board CGO Pilot
      1. What is the Nonprofit Board CGO Pilot?
    • This pilot program was created by CSSL faculty Paul Jansen and research associate and MBA Helen Hatch following a year-long research project about nonprofit board governance. Over 30 nonprofit board and executive leaders were interviewed on various aspects of board governance. The pilot aims to test the research question: does create and supporting a Chief Governance Officer (CGO) position on the board improve nonprofit governance as measured by the pre/post difference in a self-reported assessment of governance responsibilities?
       2. What will I learn or take away from this program?

Participants will:

    • Complete a pre and post-assessment of your nonprofit board’s oversight and compliance across the following governance dimensions: legal, human resources, financial oversight, and accountability, effective decision making aligned with organizational mission and strategic direction, ensuring that the organization has the appropriate leadership and resources, and the structure in place to monitor performance and evaluate the Executive Director and overall organizations effectiveness and impact. This powerful tool will inform the nonprofit organizations’ governance is adequate to fulfill the boards’ responsibilities, and reveal areas of growth and opportunity.
    • Form and participate in a network of 20 nonprofit organizations that will participate in this research project that informs and advances the field of nonprofit leadership and governance.
    • Receive a CGO training/certificate in Nonprofit Governance and join a CGO discussion group as part of the first year of the pilot program.
    • Bonus: We are actively seeking partners to support this research project, including securing grant funding to pass through participating organizations to support their effectiveness.
        3. Does my organization qualify for this pilot?
    • We are seeking organizations across a diverse spectrum of budget and board size, issue area, geographic location (limited to the United States) and populations served. Organizations with a minimum budget size of $1M and above are encouraged to apply.


Interested in learning more? We invite you to contact the authors at [email protected] and [email protected].