Policy-making is not a ‘paint-by-numbers‘ process. Being clear about the structural elements of an organisational policy however, helps both policy writers and users to focus their attention on the purposes served and outcomes sought from working within the policy guidance.
This post follows on from my two previous posts on Organisational Policy, and is effectively part 3 in a series. Having offered distinctions between governance policies and operational policies in the first article, the second referred readers to toolkits and templates which could provide them with sets of boilerplate policies, for them to customise according to their needs. (See links below).
Most non-profit policy development is undertaken by committees of volunteers, who rarely have any background in writing documents of this kind. Relatively few associations and charities have policy staff who have been selected for their expertise in policy writing.
I find that non-profit organisations generally welcome guidance on what policies they may need to improve their governance and/or operations, and how to construct and implement these policies and procedures.
A compact and very helpful outline of one policy ‘framework’ is offered by the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute. While intended to aid Indigenous people to “design pathways into the future that maximise their self- determination through effective, legitimate governance”, it references “world-class governance practice” relevant for all non-profit bodies.
The chart below offers a comparison of four examples of policy structure drawn from quite different sources:
- the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute
- The University of Melbourne Policy Library
- Nancy Campbell’s book Writing Effective Policies and Procedures: a step-by-step resource for clear communication (Amacom,1998), and
- the Institute of Community Directors’ Policy Bank.
Noteworthy common elements are highlighted in the chart. These suggest the essence of all organisational policies, regardless of sector or entity type, while allowing additional elements according to the nature and needs of the organisation concerned.
This article and the resources it mentions may be of interest to members of your non-profit governance and policy committee.