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Overseeing environmental, social and governance matters: A not-for-profit boards of directors framework

The focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters is continuing to grow, with various stakeholders paying more attention. Ultimately, not-for-profit boards must be knowledgeable and engaged in the oversight of ESG matters.

While not-for-profit organizations have always been purpose-driven, stakeholders are paying more attention to how they operate in the broader ESG context. Recognizing that this is a vast area, this document provides a practical step-by-step approach and related resources. Not-for-profit boards with varying levels of organizational capacity, and at varying stages of their ESG oversight journey, can benefit from the information provided.

In fulfilling their oversight role, we expect that boards will need assistance from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Executive Director (ED) and—through them—management to determine what ESG matters are important for the organization, develop relevant goals and standards, and conduct assessments of progress against those goals and standards. This framework can also serve as an important resource for the CEO/ED and management when engaging in discussions with boards regarding their oversight of ESG matters.