A written statement of principles, values, or intent that provides a basis for consistent decision making and guides the actions of staff, management, and board of trustees. A policy is intentionally broad in its language and application. The following is an example of an anti-discrimination policy:
"[Organization Name] shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers, selection of vendors, and provision of services."
In contrast, a procedure is a detailed, step-by-step description of a process. It tells the reader how to do something. Generally, policies are implemented through procedures. For example, the above anti-discrimination policy would require a detailed grievance procedure in order to operationalize it within an organization.
The governing body has the fiduciary responsibility for setting organizational policy. Therefore, policies must be approved and periodically reviewed by the organization's governing body. However, the governing body typically delegates (via policy) the responsibility for policy development to management. In owner-operated for-profit companies, the owner can act as the company's governing body, depending on the company's corporate structure.
In a public agency the responsibility for setting and reviewing policies may belong to the agency's management team, elected officials, another governmental agency, or as is often the case, a combination of the above.