Hacks for Governing SSP Boards and Board Governance

Board of Directors – Styles

There are many styles of Boards of Directors, ranging from very involved to very uninvolved. Some styles include:

  • Rubber Stamp – these are boards that simply follow the lead of the executive. They are generally very hands-off and leave decisions to the executive director or, in the case of cooperative or hybrid organizations, other decision-making bodies stipulated in the organization’s bylaws.
  • Governance Board – a governance board completes all of the most essential tasks of a BoD but leaves most decisions and planning to the organization’s managers.
  • Program Board – program boards are generally made up of people who are experts or are interested in the day-to-day program operations at an organization. These boards tend to be very hands-on, and members often volunteer to provide agency services.
  • Operations Board – operations boards are generally more hands-on in the operations and planning of the organization, including supporting the executive director or managers and defining long term organizational goals.
  • Donor Board – donor boards almost exclusively work toward building the organization’s donor base and soliciting funds. Donor boards often have a requirement that members donate a specific amount each year. Although rare in harm reduction organizations, donor boards are common in the arts.

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.
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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

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