Duty of Loyalty

Some moments are etched in your mind, unforgettable. One moment for me was at an aunt’s funeral. During her eulogy, the minister repeated something my aunt had told him. She said “she married a man named Loyal, and that is exactly what he was.”

Merriam-Webster defines loyal as “having or showing complete and constant support for someone or something” One of the three legal duties of board members is Duty of Loyalty. This duty speaks to avoiding conflict of interests, maintaining confidentiality and putting the needs of the organization before benefitting personal, professional or another organization. A board member demonstrates allegiance to the organization and its purpose.

Here some examples of conflict of interest modified from a BoardSource publication:

  • An elementary school is considering expanding to serve grades K-12. Board members whose children would other side move on to another high school vote for the expansion even through the financial analysis does not support the decision.
  • A close personal friend of the organization’s Executive Director is recruited as a board member.
  • A nonprofit decides to open an investment fund and uses Financial Investment Firm ABC because they trust their board member employed there.
  • A museum board member attends an auction of rare objects as a private collector when the objects would also be ideal additions to the museum collection.

As you think about your board service to a nonprofit organization, strive to keep an unwavering allegiance and firm determination to adhere to the cause.

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