Duty of Office

In the world of Non-Profits Duty of Office is not the driving force behind action as it is in the privet sector. If a board of directors or corporate officer in any active company had an attendance of less than 50%, they would be gone. It’s that simple. In an NP it is not unheard of to find board members with a 20-30% attendance record, that is to say that THEY ARE THERE only 20-30% of the time! That sucks. This is not the norm but it does happen.

It is understandable that things do come up, emergencies occur, and people have forgotten things before. The issue is when regularly scheduled meetings have been established and the attendance is still at such a low level. Confirmation notice of a regular meeting day and time is a courtesy. If it is in writing months in advance, and it has been talked about on several occasions throughout the month, it is common knowledge. The meeting will occur, unless otherwise notified.

I understand that life intervenes now and then necessitating a change of plans. When the general attendance of half a board of directors is below 50% and they are not doing anything the rest of the month for the organization this argument has little sway.

As you may have guessed, a meeting was planned, I prepared, at length, and was notified 2 hours before the meeting, that it was not going to happen because over half the board would not be in attendance.

I titled this entry as I did, because the concept of Duty of Office is big deal. This responsibility is Duty, in the legal sense. When you accept a post in governance you have a Duty to act on the best interest of the organization and its membership. Failure take this Duty seriously is a breach of Duty. This breach may, or may not, also be a breach of Fiduciary Responsibility.

In the private sector business is just that, business. It seems that in the small (under $2.5M annual gross) non-profit sector, the assumption is that “non-profit” is an operationally edict. It is not. NP is a tax status and nothing else. Poor management would not be tolerated in a for profit business, nor should it be in a non-profit one.

You may have noticed that this is an issue that sticks in my craw. I love working with NP organizations. They do a lot of good for the community. The problem arises when they don’t take the job seriously, “it’s just a non-profit”.