Critical Legal Responsibilities for Your Board

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Guest Bloggers – Beth Short & Bill Sieck

​Every community has seen the sad headlines of a theft or some sort of fraudulent activity at a charitable organization. It is particularly heartbreaking if it is a charity that you are closely involved with because there are generally never enough resources available to address all of the needs served by charity. And the feelings can be even worse if you are on the board of directors. The feeling of betrayal and even guilt can be overwhelming. The fiscal and reputational damage in these situations can be overwhelming. Far too often, boards of directors are asleep at the wheel and not living up to their legal obligations to ensure the safe and effective use of its assets.

So many boards are caught up with the busy and important work of providing essential programs that they don’t take time out to evaluate how they are doing living up to the needs of the organization and whether their important legal obligations are being met. Sieck said.

The good news is that the vast majority of people involved in the charitable community are passionately committed to the causes served by their organizations and want to do a responsible job. And with just a few tweaks, charitable boards of directors can take positive steps forward that will protect the good work of their organizations so that its clients can rely on its services into the future.

“We often talk about how we should receive a medical checkup every year from our doctor. Charitable board leaders also need to do an annual review about how well they are living up to their important responsibilities and protecting the charity so it can offer valuable services into the future,” Sieck said. “So many of the cases we deal with in the Attorney General’s office could have been avoided if board members were tuned in to their important obligations.”

The fiduciary obligations of charitable board members apply to leaders of large or small organizations.  William Sieck of the Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section will be discussing some adjustments that boards of directors can consider. The training will provide concrete suggestions and tips for board members to consider when evaluating board governance practices and financial controls. Most are simple and common sense.

Register now for Bill’s workshop on October 8, 2019, Bootcamp for Nonprofit Leaders.