Wise Giving Wednesday: Serving on Too Many Governing Boards

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calendar icon Jul 17, 2020

Charities, especially at the regional level, often seek to engage community leaders, such as prominent business executives, by inviting them to join their board of directors. While this makes sense in terms of making helpful connections and getting input from successful individuals, organizations need to be aware that in some cases, the popularity of certain individuals may lead to instances of over commitments. A community leader may be serving on too many boards (both charity and for-profit) at the same time.  This point came up in a presentation on board governance made on October 17 th by Michael Peregrine at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Charity Officials, an organization of state government regulators of charities which is also sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General. 

Mr. Perregrine, a partner at the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, referred to this phenomenon as “charity overboarding” and noted that at some point a board member’s effectiveness is diminished by serving on too many governing boards. Board participation involves  time commitments in terms of preparing for and attending governance meetings and other activities in fulfilling an oversight role.                                      

As noted in the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability , a charity’s board of directors should provide adequate oversight of the charity’s operations and staff by fulfilling certain fundamental responsibilities (for example, budget approval, oversight of fundraising activities, etc.) and should have a majority of board members in attendance at meetings. A board member who serves on too many governing boards may have difficulty in meeting these responsibilities. 

On a separate note, as part of our  Building Trust Video Series we are pleased to provide a video that features an interview with Jaime Berman Matyas, President and Chief Executive Officer Student Conservation Association, (a BBB Accredited Charity). They have been involved in building the next generation of conservation leaders and encouraging environmental stewardship since 1957. 

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  https://give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ 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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