Conflict-of-interest checklist for nonprofits

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Nonprofit board officers, directors, trustees and key employees must avoid conflicts of interest because it’s their duty to do so. Any direct or indirect financial interest in a transaction or arrangement that might benefit one of these individuals personally could result in the loss of your organization’s tax-exempt status — and its reputation.

Here’s a quick checklist to gauge whether your nonprofit is doing what it takes to avoid conflicts of interest:

• Do you have a conflict-of-interest policy in place that specifies what constitutes a conflict and lists exceptions?

• Do you require board officers, directors, trustees and key employees to annually pledge to disclose interests, relationships and financial holdings that could result in a conflict of interest?

• Do they understand that they must speak up if issues arise that could pose a possible conflict?

• Do you provide training in conflicts of interest?

• Do you have procedures in place that outline the steps you’ll take when a possible conflict of interest arises?

• Are individuals with possible conflicts asked to present only the facts, and then remove themselves from any discussion of the issue?

• Do you keep minutes of the meetings where the conflict of interest is discussed, noting those members present and voting, and indicating the final decision reached?

• Do you put projects out for bid — with identical specifications — to multiple vendors?

• Do you supply a written contract to each vendor that details the service the company will provide, specific deliverables, cost estimates and a time frame for delivery?

The board should address any “no” answers and evaluate adequate conflict-of-interest policies to put in place as well as procedures to support them. Contact us for more information.

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