Ensuring good governance for your association

The governance of your association is tightly linked to its ability to set and achieve its strategic priorities and to deliver on its promise to members.

Associations with a robust, modern and clear governance framework are much more likely to be effective in their mission, that those that are mired in out-dated systems and processes that have remained unchanged for decades.

Association Governance

Achieving good governance requires more than just complying with your association’s legal obligations and acting in accordance with your constitution. It requires an effective governance system which guides the way the association operates, backed by sound policies and procedures covering everything from how and when your board meetings are held, to how they are run, to board agendas and papers and board composition, skills mix and induction.

It also involves getting the balance right between the strategic role and responsibilities of the board and committees and the operational responsibility of management, staff, contractors and volunteers to turn your strategic priorities into reality.  It also requires careful risk management and ethical decision-making focused on serving your members’ best interests.

There are lots of resources available on the topic of good governance for associations. But if you are seeking to systematically improve or manage governance at your association (or indeed to radically overhaul it!), then expert, independent advice and practical hands-on support is often called for.

This is where we can help.

Our Approach to Association Governance

At FineHaus, we offer two types of services to help our clients improve governance at their association.  The first is a governance review, where (as the name suggests), we conduct an independent, external review of your associations approach to governance, and provide detailed recommendations for improvement.

Alternatively, we take a very hands-on approach, working on a part-time, contract basis as part of your team (for example as your Company Secretary or Operations Manager), with responsibility for governance.  This means we do everything for you, from setting up your governance systems, policies and procedures, ensuring regulatory compliance to supporting your board meetings.

1. Governance Review

For some associations, the best approach to improving governance is to conduct an independent, external governance review that clearly identify what needs to be done to achieve good governance, and provides step-by-step advice on how to do it.

Step 1:  Governance Audit

Typically, our first step is to undertake a comprehensive audit of your associations current approach to governance.  This is not a legal review of your constitution (that is what lawyers are for!) – although we do look at your constitution from a practical perspective in terms of how it is enabling or constraining your association. Rather, we review how governance works in action at your association. We look at your board meetings, papers, agenda and composition.  We review your systems, policies and procedures and risk management strategies. We talk to your board and management about what is working – and what isn’t.

Step 2: Governance Improvement Plan

We then put together a systematic, detailed and practical step-by-step governance improvement plan for your Association.

Step 3: Plan Implementation

Where required, we can then help you implement the plan.  This can involve as much as doing everything that we have recommended for you, to as little as coaching your team and reviewing what has been done to ensure it is all on track.

This rigorous, proven approach is the reason why our clients choose us for this important work.

2. Contract Governance Experts

Sometimes, our clients don’t want an external governance review.  They want someone who knows what they are doing to manage everything related to governance at their association and to work as part of their team on a part-time, contract basis.  This is particularly true for smaller associations, who just don’t have this kind of capability in-house.

Talk to us

If our approach to association governance sounds like something your association could benefit from, then let’s talk.

Connie Finestone leads the governance projects at FineHaus, and she has lots of experience doing just this for associations including the Australasian Legal Management Association, the Institute for Professional Editors and The Australian Chamber of International Trade.  And she’d love to help you.

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“Working together as a virtual management team …Nicki and Connie drove impressive growth at ALPMA, achieving significant increases in membership and sponsorship, while transforming ALPMA’s online presence, streamlining its operations and significantly increasing the financial performance and profile of ALPMA’s flagship event, the ALPMA Summit. 

They bring infectious passion and enthusiasm to everything they do. I can’t recommend them highly enough.”

Warrick McLean, Past President, Australasian Legal Practice Management Association


Strategic planning is one of the most important processes for an organisation to undertake. We were fortunate to have FineHaus as facilitators to guide us skilfully through what can be a challenging and often time-fraught process.

We would not hesitate to work with Nicki and Connie again and highly recommend them to any organisation about to undertake this journey. We could not think of better navigators.”

Karen Lee, CEO, Institute of Professional Editors


From dreamy concept to the nitty gritty details of delivery, Finehaus were committed to ensuring that ALTACON was a success. Nicki and Conniewere able to remain simultaneously focused on the goal, the members and the financial outcome to ensure that everything from speakers to sponsorship, food, fun and fellowship – nothing was forgotten, no stone unturned, and no issue too big for them to tackle.

Any association would be lucky to have them as part of the team. 

Jodie Baker, Chair, Australian Legal Technology Association


Nicki and Connie from FineHaus worked with the Asset Management Council over an eight month period to review the membership model currently used by the Council in an effort to enhance value for membership, increase utilisation of services and increase membership reach. The work undertaken by FineHaus was comprehensive and robust, providing confidence that the new membership model to be implemented will succeed.

Dr Anne Gibbs, CEO, Asset Management Council