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Conflicts

Have you ever considered that someone on your board, or the way your board handles certain situations may be a conflict of interest?   Unfortunately conflicts arise in various situations and can lead to unwanted and unnecessary consequences.  Protect yourself and your group by avoiding some of the most common conflicts:

  •  If one of your board members owns or works for a company that is a potential vendor for the board (think t-shirts, food, entertainment, etc.).  You know you’ll get the best deal and cut your work in half by just letting them handle it, but a huge conflict arises if you do not follow proper protocol.
  1. First, it is the board’s obligation to make sure they are getting the best deal.  While the best deal does not necessarily mean the cheapest option, it is important that board members do their due diligence before agreeing to utilize any vendor.  Research the other options.
  2. Second,  it is important to disclose the potential conflict.  Make sure all board members are aware of the association with a specific company and if the issue requires a vote, all voting members should also be aware of the potential conflict.
  3. Finally, the member with the conflict should abstain from discussion of the issue and voting on the issue. 
  • If your organization raises money for the students to attend a camp, a festival, or other activity, be careful about also paying for the parent volunteers to attend.
  1. Ideally parent volunteers will pay their own way for these activities.  While this may be a financial burden on some and limit the ability or desire of some volunteers, this is the best way to handle non-student expenses.
  2. If your board has decided it is in the best interests of everyone to pay for the volunteers to attend the activity with the students, then you must open the ability to chaperone to all parents and have a lottery system to choose who attends.  It must be a fair and impartial selection.  Consider choosing names from a hat in front of everyone after giving everyone notice the date, time, and location of which the names are to be selected so anyone interested may attend.
  3. Often parents who volunteer to run the organization and are on the board believe they are entitled to some benefit, like attending an event with their child at no additional cost.  Unfortunately this type of benefit could result in taxable income to the volunteer and place the non-profit in jeopardy for not accurately recording the distribution of income to the IRS.