Hacks for Governing SSP Boards and Board Governance

This section has 4 hacks in it.
“An effective group spirit on a board is one that attracts its members, makes them want to work with one another and gives them a sense of pride and satisfaction in the program and the board itself.”
Cyril Houle

This section addresses agency governance bodies: primarily nonprofit Boards of Directors (BoDs) but also participant, community, and cooperative committees that frequently hold power in SSPs. A board of directors is a group of people elected to run an organization. In nonprofits their primary tasks are to:

  • Uphold the mission
  • Hire and provide oversight and support for the Executive Director/CEO (if applicable)
  • Attend board meetings and keep minutes
  • Complete committee work
  • Oversee agency finances
  • Provide financial support through direct giving or soliciting donations
  • Advocate for the organization and its mission in the community

Board of Directors – Styles

There are many styles of Boards of Directors, ranging from very involved to very uninvolved. Some styles include: Rubber stamp, governance board…

By-Law Requirements of Boards of Directors

Legally, an organization’s bylaws govern the internal mechanics of democratic decision making in organizations. Board members are legally and financially liable for the organization.

Board Development

There is often a large difference between where leaders would like their Boards to be and where they actually are. In order to make boards more functional, organizations need to put time into board development.

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 […]

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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