Board Governance Lab

A woman greets a table full of people.

Founded by students in 1997 as Stanford Board Fellows, the Board Governance Lab connects outstanding MBA and MSx students with the boards of directors of Bay Area nonprofits for apprenticeships in board service.

The program exposes students to the complexities of nonprofit management and oversight to prepare them, as future business leaders, for responsible community leadership after graduation from Stanford GSB. Each year, dozens of local nonprofits participate. In the years since the program’s founding, over 835 students have served as Board Fellows.

Board Governance Lab associates can expect to:

  • Gain an understanding of the role of business leaders on nonprofit boards
  • Develop tools for effective community leadership
  • Apply concepts from Stanford GSB’s curriculum in the field by attending board and committee meetings, and participating in the strategic work of a board committee; projects are proposed by the board and executive director of participating organizations and then finalized with associates once matches occur
  • Receive from the board-member mentor an orientation and background on the organization, primarily on its mission, strategy, activities, and challenges
  • Build connections to the Bay Area social sector, business and nonprofit leaders, and fellow students
  • Channel passion for a social issue (or the desire to learn more) into a positive impact
  • Reflect on and share learnings with other Impact Labs associates at the Impact Labs mid-year and year-end convening

Sample Projects

  • Participate in the development of a strategic plan (or portion thereof).
  • Build a financial model to improve planning and cost tracking.
  • Develop metrics or a tracking system to monitor organization progress.
  • Evaluate an organization’s investment strategy and recommend improvements.
  • Assist in creating a survey tool to understand customer satisfaction and needs.
  • Benchmark specific activities of similar nonprofits, such as marketing, to understand best practices.