What are the Different Types of Advisory Boards?


Published 28 May 2019

There are several popular models of advisory boards, each with its own characteristics. Each type of advisory board is useful for different situations within an organisation.

Advisory Boards for the Business Sector

A formalised advisory board has an independent Certified Chair, a Charter, structured meeting protocols and annual economic impact measurement. The most common composition is internal business representatives, an independent Chair and two external advisors chosen specifically for the priorities identified in the charter. The meeting schedule is often quarterly for the whole advisory board, with the Chair and primary business representative meeting more frequently.

Startups and smaller businesses may also adopt an informal advisory board. This type of advisory board is commonly used for businesses at a very early stage of growth or with significant time and resource constraints. These are often operated with a group of volunteer supporters with a very ad-hoc style discussion and no defined meeting structure. Informal advisory boards tend to operate for a short period of time and then are disbanded either due to lack of focus from the business or time availability of volunteers. This informal style isn’t considered best practice but can often lead to short term positive results, especially in start-up business stages.

Project Advisory Board

A project advisory board is formed for a specific purpose and period of time. The timeframes generally range between three and eighteen months and the sole focus is on a specific project or outcome. Market expansion, succession planning, restructures and many other situations may call for this shorter-term, highly focused arrangement.

Corporatised Advisory Board

A corporatised advisory board is found in organisations that have a well-articulated formal governance structure such as a board of directors. Corporatised advisory boards provide a distinct, yet complementary, support structure for the executives and directors.

Corporatised advisory boards will often have a focused scope and clearly defined protocols to outline the advisory board operation as distinct from the board of directors. This board is often used in multinational operations, stakeholder engagement and major initiatives.

Selecting the applicable board is crucial to the success of business goals and should be one of the first steps in establishing an advisory board.

Still have questions? Visit our Fundamentals or contact us directly.

How We Assist

Leveraging over 15 years of research and industry consultation, the Advisory Board Centre developed the global first  ABF101 Advisory Board Best Practice Framework™.  The ABF101 Framework sets out the core principles which are pillars to support organizations of any size to benefit from their Advisory Board.

For Organisations:

As the global professional body for the advisory sector, the Advisory Board Centre is the lead educator and connector for organisations seeking independent advisory board information and engagement. Our value driver for organisations is to provide a practical way for organisations to increase competitiveness, foster innovation and drive economic impact through effective engagement with Advisors.

For Chairs and Advisors:

The Advisory Board Centre provides professional membership, credentials, market intelligence, advocacy and global connections to professionals who are currently engaged or aspiring to participate in formal advisory boards.

Want to learn more?

Check out our e-learning programs which are fully facilitated and accessible anywhere, anytime. Understand Advisory Board Foundations or discover practical steps to a portfolio career with Executive Transitions. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, based in the East or the West – develop your board skills in your own time.