Hacks for Governing SSP Boards and Board Governance

Advisory and Cooperative Boards

In addition to traditional Boards of Directors, many harm reduction agencies have other bodies for democratic control of various aspects of an organization. These include both advisory boards and cooperative boards.

Advisory boards are usually one of two types – community or participant.

  • Community Advisory Boards (CABs) may be made up of both participants and other close community members like the family members of participants or others the organization would like to involve in decision-making. “Community Advisory Board” is also a name sometimes used to describe an internal governance and advice board in fiscally sponsored projects. These boards often make recommendations to the BoD and may, in certain cases, directly control aspects of the organization.
  • Participant Advisory Boards (PABs) are, as the name implies, advisory boards consisting of people who use agency services. Like CABs, PABs often have the capacity to make recommendations to the BoD and may, in certain cases, directly control aspects of the organization.
  • Cooperative boards or committees are governing arms of cooperatively run organizations and may control every aspect of the organization with the (legally necessary) BoD merely rubber-stamping their decisions.

All of these types of boards benefit from the same board development recommendations described in the previous article.

More Resources

Don’t reinvent the wheel
During our development Harm Reduction Hacks have collected together a large number of resources from around the web you can find these in our resource folder in Google Docs. We are also always looking for more so help us by suggesting any resources we may have missed.
Suggest a Resource

External Resources

Collected from around the web
There are a number of external resources that contributed to the development of Harm Reduction Hacks. Here are a selection relating to this section:


The hacks on this site are shared with you under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence. This allows you (with attribution) to adapt content for your own use, although we do ask you to then also allow others to have equal access to anything you develop. More details of this licence can be found on the Creative Commons website.


We do not claim that this is an exhaustive set of strategies, shortcuts, or tips for running an SSP. What we do suggest is that Harm Reduction Hacks offers down-to-earth, practical information for being a better leader, starting and running an SSP, and providing syringe access services. We feel we can say this with confidence because the Hacks are based on interviews with, and the experiences of, literally generations of people who have been doing harm reduction work.

Please note that nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney local to your area to ensure your program is in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations that apply to your situation. 

Harm Reduction Hacks site design and implimentation by Nigel Brunsdon

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google
Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.