Are Your Board Governance Policies in Order? The Government Wants To Know.

April 15, 2009

Wendy Liscow, Program Officer

We spend a great deal of time at Dodge thinking about ways, beyond sending a grant check, to build the administrative and board capacity of our grantees. When a large number of our grantees are struggling with a particular issue, we try to bring in some experts to provide some answers.

This past year we hosted an extended series of workshops to help our grantees strengthen their board governance. It has been an exhilarating ride, and we plan to use the Dodge Blog as a way to share some of the insights of our terrific workshop leaders as well as to share support materials we have gathered along the way. We kick off our conversation with a salute to today’s looming tax filing deadline!

If you have dreaded filling out the Form 990 for the IRS in the past, you might find yourself wanting to run for the hills when you learn what is required in the new and improved 990. The IRS is now asking a host of questions about your nonprofit board and governance practices.

During a recent Dodge webinar about tackling the new 990, our grantees went from being overwhelmed to recognizing that these new questions, while requiring more work, were providing them with an outline of board governance best practices.

The IRS now wants to know if your organization has a Conflict of Interest policy. Do you have a Document Destruction policy and a Whistle Blower policy? Do you have a procedure to evaluate your Executive Director and benchmarks for determining his/her salary?

If the answers to the above questions are no, and you don’t know where to start, our partner in developing and implementing The Dodge Foundation Board Leadership Series, La Salle University Nonprofit Center, has put together a helpful packet of samples of all the policies and procedures you are required to have. We even have a sample of the new 990 with the changes highlighted for your convenience created by our workshop presenter Elizabeth Pilacik of Asher and Company. Have your Board of Trustees look over these documents and get started on personalizing them for your own organization. It should be a top priority for your Board.

We would love to hear about your experiences filling out the new 990. Perhaps you might want to share some of your governance policies as examples. There is a treasure trove of brilliant and seasoned nonprofit leaders and board members out there, and we hope to learn from this collective wisdom.