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Managing Conflicts of Interest: The Board's Guide to Unbiased Decision Making, Third Edition (PDF)

by BoardSource

Managing Conflicts of Interest: The Board's Guide to Unbiased Decision Making, Third Edition (PDF)

The nonprofit sector values our board members’ personal and professional knowledge, experience, and community engagement, but these board members can face challenges in carrying out their board responsibilities precisely because of the number and breadth of associations and connections they have. Making unbiased, independent decisions on behalf of an organization isn’t always easy. Managing Conflicts of Interest is here to help by providing you with the information you need to recognize potential conflicts of interest, determine when these conflicts present areas of concern, and do something about them.

To help you promote a culture of disclosure in your nonprofit, we explore the meaning of conflicts of interest and the legal rules relating to them. We acknowledge the difficulty in identifying problematic conflicts of interest and give recommendations for practice. We discuss 

  • the most recent state and federal laws governing conflicts of interest 
  • important legal concepts, including private inurement, private benefit, and intermediate sanctions 
  • situations that give rise to conflicts of interest 
  • creation of a conflict-of-interest policy and the need for proper disclosure 
  • establishing a procedure for responding to existing conflicts 
  • organizational code of ethics and maintaining an overall culture of integrity 
  • special considerations for private foundations in dealing with conflicts of interest 

The key for nonprofit boards is not to try to avoid all possible conflict-of-interest situations but to identify and follow a process for handling them effectively. How you manage conflicts of interest and assure open and honest deliberation affects all aspects of your organization’s operations and is critical to making good decisions, avoiding legal problems and public scandals, and remaining focused on your mission. Managing Conflicts of Interest provides the guidance you need.

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