board-members-companion-book-coverThe Board Member’s Companion
A Free Book for Non-Profit Boards and their Members

by Don Watson

The Board Member’s Companion covers the whole ground that a non-profit board member needs in 282 pages and 21 chapters.

Download the book for free

About the Author, Don Watson

Author Don Watson
Don Watson, author of The Board’s Companion

Educated at Oxford University and London University, Don Watson originally taught Mathematics at colleges in England.

In Canada, he was Director of Computing Services and Director of Reengineering at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

He has over thirty years of membership on performing arts, community and provincial boards. They include the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras, the Council of the Ontario College of Teachers, the Ontario Association of Children’s Rehabilitation Services, Volunteer Thunder Bay and the Lakehead Social Planning Council.

These experiences have provided an abundance of material on which to base his book.

The Book

The Board Member’s Companion is easy and enjoyable to read and understand, specific with many examples and full of useful information. Everything in it has been tested and shown to work. The book is organized into three parts, explained below.

The Board Member’s Companion, by Don Watson

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Part A Orientation

A board member orientation guide describing the member role, the board role and finances. It is intended to accompany a board training session or be given to a new board member.

It uses an all-encompassing model of a board (the ENDS model) to simplify the subject and develop a prescription of 12 critical success factors.

Part B Management

Methods to address the stewardship of operational and board management.

Part C Leadership

Methods to address the board’s challenging leadership role.

Conditions of use

The author, Don Watson, holds copyright to “The Board Member’s Companion”. Printed copies of its manuscript, available at this website, can only be distributed for free.


This resource is more complete than similar publications because it goes into significant detail on a wide variety of Board issues. It includes some useful features such as extensive cross-referencing, boxes, lists, examples, and specific advice that make the publication very easy to use.

Key areas that Boards often neglect, such as policy development, executive director evaluation, governance review, and board recruitment are covered in significant detail.

The Canadian Association E-zine

It demonstrates such a thorough understanding of both board and organizational responsibilities, functions and, perhaps most important, interrelationships. The chapters with a focus on mission and values, the excellent job descriptions, the legal aspects, are among the clearest and most insightful I have read.

Betty Webster, OC, former Executive Director, Orchestras Canada

The ENDS Model

The ENDS Model provides a simple way of seeing all boards of all kinds as the same. It breaks the subject into components that are easy to explain. Success factors for each component can then be developed independently.

While most of these success factors support John Carver (“Boards That Make a Difference”, Jossey-Bass, 1990), the differences enable the book to suit a much wider range of board types.

A board is defined as an entity with four parameters. Everything any board is, does or produces derives from one or other of these four parameters.

By adjusting parameter content, any board can be modeled. The underlined letters of the parameter titles form the acronym (“ENDS”):


The high level organizational activities and guidelines that are the Board’s main responsibility.


Board member work outside board meetings.


Formal decision-making within board meetings.


The components that enable responsibilities and tasks to be delegated.