Wise Giving Wednesday: Charity Overboarding

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calendar icon Aug 04, 2021

It’s common practice for charities to invite prominent business executives and community leaders to serve on their governing boards. Guidance from knowledgeable and respected individuals can help organizations make more informed decisions and perhaps may inspire others to join them on a charity’s board.

Serving on a charity’s board of directors, however, also involves a commitment of time and effort on the part of each board member. There are also responsibilities to maintain and address such as duty of care (wise use of the charity’s resources), duty of loyalty (priority of the charity’s mission in decisions) and duty of obedience (following bylaws and appropriate government regulations).

The end result is that certain individuals, due to their popularity, may end up serving on too many governing bodies (both charities and for-profit) which might lead to a circumstance called “overboarding.” This is a term we first heard several years ago at a presentation made by the governing expert and attorney Michael W. Peregrine at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Charity Officials. Mr. Peregrine is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and also further describes this situation in an article appearing in Forbes.

Overboarding may also potentially lead to problems with the governance section of the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. In part, these standards call for adequate board oversight of the charity’s operations and staff by ensuring such practices as evidence of disbursement controls through budget approval, oversight of fundraising practices and other measures to help safeguard charity finances. The BBB Charity Standards also require a minimum of three board meetings each year with a majority of members in attendance on average. Video conferencing is counted as an in-person board meeting. If a board member serves on a multitude of boards, he/she may have problems with attendance and/or ensuring that governing issues receive appropriate attention during their participation.

Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a video interviews with Carolyn Aldige, Founder and CEO of Prevent Cancer Foundation and Lisa McGovern, Executive Director of the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program. The Prevent Cancer Foundation is a BBB Accredited Charity that supports cancer prevention research, education, and community outreach programs across the United States. The Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program is an bipartisan activity of the Foundation that seeks to increase the public’s understanding of cancer prevention and early detection. Families of Senate, House, Cabinet, Supreme Court and the Diplomatic Corps are invited to work within their respective constituencies to educate the public.

Heart of Giving Podcast 

This week’s Heart of Giving Podcast features an interview with Eduardo Vilaro, Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Hispànico in New York City. He shares his journey from childhood Cuban immigrant in the Bronx to a leader and innovator in high-end performing arts. He also discusses his efforts to expand and diversify both his performers and audience while adapting a classical dance genre to 21st-century tastes.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance 


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