Board Member Agreements
Board members are often asked to sign agreements as part of their responsibility on the board. These reflect the organization's policies. A breach of an agreement is often grounds for a board member's termination. Examples of such agreements include:
- Confidentiality and/or Privacy Agreement—Board member is asked to respect the confidentiality of information gained as a result of serving on a board such as client information, personnel, membership, finances, etc.
- Conflict of Interest—Requires a board member to declare if he/she has a personal interest in an area that is of interest to the organization. Being in a conflict position does not automatically disqualify a board member, but not disclosing the conflict can lead to a breach of the agreement.
- Code of Conduct—Boards may develop codes of conduct that cover everything from communication protocols, use of expense accounts, dress codes and language used at board meetings. Generally, non-profit organizations with volunteer board members are less formal on conduct rules; however, there may be overall rules and expectations about respect for the organization and other members. Any such rules are often included as part of a board member's job description.
- Competition—This applies more to individuals who in their working life may be involved in the same line of business as the organization for which they are also a board member. It protects the organization from people who may gain inside information, or skills and experience, from serving on a board and then use that knowledge and information to compete with the organization to offer services.
While it's true that agreements may seem overly ‘formal’, especially when a board is working well and there is strong communication and trust amongst members, when boards aren't working well this is often a time when it helps to have agreements to fall back on.