Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Panel Report, Part 2

Today I want to react to two parts of the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector's report and Recommendations:

Structure, Size, Composition and Independence of Boards of Directors

and

Travel Expenses

First, boards. Boards need to be independent, have a large and changing skillset, and be free of "the appearance of impropriety". With that background, I agree with the Panel's recommendations, including increased disclosure, a good definition of independent, and the need to exclude convicted criminals (if the crime was in relation to their work with nonprofits)

I also agree with the panel NOT agreeing with the Senate's proposal that all nonprofits have 15 board members. That's nutty. With so much variety in our nation's charitable organization, proscribing a set number is, well, dumb. And I thought a Republican Congress wanted less government, not more! These are good recommendations.

Travel. There is a ton of bad media coverage around travel, usually from excess travel expenses at plush resorts for board and senior staff of large organizations. While I don't recommend that board members be forced to sleep in their cars when traveling for the organization, on the other end of the scale, always staying at the Ritz is inappropriate as well.

First, you need to have and consistently enforce travel policies. SO many organizations have policies and ignore them, or make exceptions for board members, or, or, or. Don't.

The panel makes 5 very common sense recommendations in terms of policies and disclosures. I like all of them, and they are easy to live with---particularly if you are not abusing travel now.



Tomorrow, I'll weigh in on Review of 501(c) status, and performance data disclosure.

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