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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 883712  
Subject: non-profit board member? Date: 11/3/2012 4:40 PM
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So, no idea where to post this question.

Does anyone have any experience of being on a board for a non-profit organization?

I know someone who has been researching starting a non-profit outpatient counseling and education place for several years. She has a lot of knowledge of grant writing, relevant counseling certifications, contacts in state gov't and so on. She's looking for a couple of people to be board members.

We had a meeting today with a couple of other people and it sounds really interesting. She's got an EIN and has the articles of incorporation outlined and mostly written. She wants to get it up and running within a few months. She's not looking for money from us or anything, just people to help make decisions, and she wants it to be fairly egalitarian.

But I have no idea what to expect.

Anyone done this?


Ishtar
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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868546 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/3/2012 5:40 PM
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Does anyone have any experience of being on a board for a non-profit organization?

I was once on the board of a choral group, but they had been in operation for a number of years before I joined. A start-up, whether profit or non, is a different story.

In general we simply met once a month and went over any new business; where we would be singing next, whether the accompanist was meeting expectations (one accompanist quit exactly at the end of our spring concert, and when the person sitting nearest him told the director, we were privileged to hear a sentence I previously thought was a joke: He can't quit. He's fired) how much money was in the treasury, any upcoming fund-raisers, and so on.

Are any of the group lawyers? One thing you should check is to make sure you aren't going to be liable in the event of trouble. There should be something in the articles of incorporation regarding that.

Nancy

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868548 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/3/2012 5:46 PM
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Are any of the group lawyers? One thing you should check is to make sure you aren't going to be liable in the event of trouble. There should be something in the articles of incorporation regarding that.

No one is a lawyer, but one of the group has a contact who is a lawyer and someone else is researching liability issues. We talked about that today.


Ishtar

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Author: 4thebird Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868550 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/3/2012 8:15 PM
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if you are in new England you might want to contract these folks for help.
http://www.jerichoroadproject.org/ they match people with projects. we do consulting for IT for them. it is great to see people succeed.

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868551 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/3/2012 8:41 PM
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Looks cool, but I'm in Cali.

Ishtar

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868552 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/3/2012 10:44 PM
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It can be a lot of work and a lot of time. I have not done it, but I have friends who have. Sometimes "board member" is kind of just code for "fund-raising." But often it involves expert advice and planning.

One of my good friends is a board member for a local theatre company. He doesn't do much fund-raising, but he does a lot to raise their profile by coordinating with other local companies.

Sounds intriguing, but I would ask for a written description of your role responsibilities, and expected hours/month involvement before making the leap.

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Author: lution Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868554 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/4/2012 12:40 AM
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DW and I have been on the board for a local Down syndrome support group for nearly 10 years. I'd recommend having an accountant and lawyer on the board if you can at all swing it. Helps having that advice.

For us the board is the group that organizes family events and yes, is primarily responsible for fundraising but we only do 1 fund raiser a year.

You will need a lawyer to do your 501(c)3 paper work for the IRS. Anyone that donates to the organization is going to need a copy of that so they can show the IRS you are indeed a non-profit. Until you have that, you aren't one.

-Lution

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Author: grevinnan One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868555 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/4/2012 12:45 AM
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A great resource for established as well as for new board members is Boardsource.org. It will be well spent money for you to join individually or the new organization to join as a group.

I have been involved with non-profits as CFO, CPA and board member for many years and here are some of my recommendations:

Hire an attorney very familiar with 501(c)(3)'s for the incorporation, by-laws, federal and state filings for exemption. It will be money well spent. At a minimum have the attorney review all documents prior to filings.

Hire a CPA very familier with exempt organization filings. Will also be money well spent. Form 990 for non-exempt organizations has been expanded to include pages of questions you don't want to answer incorrectly.

Make sure the organization has liability and D&O insurance prior to opening its doors. Make sure the insurance agent is familiar with non-profits.

Look at the business plan and proposed budgets prior to joining the board. Being a board member involves lots of responsibilities. The Board is the decision maker and the ultimately responsible party for the organization. Even if someone is hired to run the day to day operations, the Board is still responsible (hence the Directors and Officers insurance).

Being involved with non-profits and the programs and projects they run is a very rewarding and challening endeavor. I hope your friend is successful in seeing her vision come to fruition. But remember, if you are on the Board and she is the Executive Director you will be her boss.

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868556 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/4/2012 1:19 AM
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DW and I have been on the board for a local Down syndrome support group for nearly 10 years. I'd recommend having an accountant and lawyer on the board if you can at all swing it. Helps having that advice.

For us the board is the group that organizes family events and yes, is primarily responsible for fundraising but we only do 1 fund raiser a year.

You will need a lawyer to do your 501(c)3 paper work for the IRS. Anyone that donates to the organization is going to need a copy of that so they can show the IRS you are indeed a non-profit. Until you have that, you aren't one.


Thank you, very useful.

Ishtar

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868557 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/4/2012 1:21 AM
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A great resource for established as well as for new board members is Boardsource.org. It will be well spent money for you to join individually or the new organization to join as a group.

I have been involved with non-profits as CFO, CPA and board member for many years and here are some of my recommendations:

Hire an attorney very familiar with 501(c)(3)'s for the incorporation, by-laws, federal and state filings for exemption. It will be money well spent. At a minimum have the attorney review all documents prior to filings.

Hire a CPA very familier with exempt organization filings. Will also be money well spent. Form 990 for non-exempt organizations has been expanded to include pages of questions you don't want to answer incorrectly.

Make sure the organization has liability and D&O insurance prior to opening its doors. Make sure the insurance agent is familiar with non-profits.

Look at the business plan and proposed budgets prior to joining the board. Being a board member involves lots of responsibilities. The Board is the decision maker and the ultimately responsible party for the organization. Even if someone is hired to run the day to day operations, the Board is still responsible (hence the Directors and Officers insurance).

Being involved with non-profits and the programs and projects they run is a very rewarding and challening endeavor. I hope your friend is successful in seeing her vision come to fruition. But remember, if you are on the Board and she is the Executive Director you will be her boss.



Thank you!

Ishtar

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Author: helpmedave One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868558 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/4/2012 12:56 PM
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Ish,

I have served on several non-profit boards through the years. I am cuurently the President of one I have served on for 17 years (4th tour of duty as the President). I am also the secretary for a new non-profit that has been going for less than a year. I was just elected V-P of our new homeowners association, that functions in many ways like a non-profit. Money has always been the biggest issue with the non-profits I have served. Who will raie it? How will we raise it? Who will have access to it? How will we spend it? Here are some ideas I have experience with:

Some banks will offer non-profits free checking accounts. In our area this is Wells Fargo. Not all banks will offer this.

One non-profit start-up I worked with approached a local law school and they handled all of the paper work for us for free. I have also served on a Board where a local lawyer completed everything for us as a service to the community. She had also been affected by our non-profits primary purpose (to assist porblem gamblers and their familes.

Each group I have served on successfully had a clear mission and stuck to that mission. I have resigned from Boards that changed their missions or strayed from their primary mission.

The Board I am the secretary for (GLBT mentoring program for teens) has collaborated with other local mentoring programs. In doing so, we recently were awarded a 25,000 grant. Collaboration can offer some wonderful rewards. The group we collaborted with was well established and it helped to raise the awareness of our new non-profit.

Each non-profit needs "idea people" and "worker bees". I have served in both roles.

I resigned from one Board after only two meetings when I found out I was expected, as a Board member, to sit in bars and sell t-shirts to raise money.

Those are some things off the top of my bald head. If you have specific questions, I would be happy to try and answer.

Dave

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868559 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/4/2012 1:00 PM
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This is fantastic, thank you!

I really like the law school idea.

The primary person was thinking she could do it herself and that makes me nervous.

Ishtar

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Author: Watty56 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868570 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/4/2012 11:26 PM
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It would be good to take a very hard look at why this needs to be a new organization and why it could not be incorporated into another non-profit group to prevent all the time, money, and effort that will be spent setting this up.

In a few years if it takes off then it could be spun off as a separate non-profit group it that make sense then. You would of course want to be up front with the existing group that you are working with that this is a possible long term option.

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Author: kahunacfa Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 868684 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/12/2012 7:09 AM
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So, no idea where to post this question.

Does anyone have any experience of being on a board for a non-profit organization?

I know someone who has been researching starting a non-profit outpatient counseling and education place for several years. She has a lot of knowledge of grant writing, relevant counseling certifications, contacts in state gov't and so on. She's looking for a couple of people to be board members.

We had a meeting today with a couple of other people and it sounds really interesting. She's got an EIN and has the articles of incorporation outlined and mostly written. She wants to get it up and running within a few months. She's not looking for money from us or anything, just people to help make decisions, and she wants it to be fairly egalitarian.

But I have no idea what to expect.

Anyone done this?
- ishtarastarte | Date: 11/3/2012 4:40:33 PM | Number: 868683


Yes, I have been a Board Member of several Not-for-Profit organizations. Being a Board Member of a Not-for-Profit Organization carries the same responsibilities as does being a Board Member of a For-Profit Organization -- except, it is especially important to be on the alert of any activity<ies> that may compromise the organization's Not-For-Profit status.

Kahuna, CFA
Venture Capital
Founding General
Partner 2012 - 2019

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Author: grevinnan One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 869067 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/26/2012 1:35 AM
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Shareholders would not be happy with that comparison.

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Author: MisterFungi Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 869071 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/26/2012 8:32 AM
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You might want to check out Tides (tides.org), or see if there is a similar organization that can serve as your organization's fiscal sponsor until you get large enough to warrant incorporating as an independent 501c3 (and managing the hassle that goes with that). Fiscal sponsor orgs. basically serve as a way to outsource a lot of the money handling part in return for a (small) percentage of your budget. And your org can receive tax-deductible contributions.

My start-up nonprofit community org. makes use of a fiscal sponsor. They also provide grantwriting and other advice.

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Author: grevinnan One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 869115 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 11/27/2012 12:44 AM
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Great advice. Tides is an excellent organization.

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Author: ataloss Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 870165 of 883712
Subject: Re: non-profit board member? Date: 1/5/2013 6:12 AM
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You will need a lawyer to do your 501(c)3 paper work for the IRS. Anyone that donates to the organization is going to need a copy of that so they can show the IRS you are indeed a non-profit. Until you have that, you aren't one.

****

This and other misconceptions are common. There is a difference between being a nonprofit (per state law) and a public charity (irs designation). Boardsource has good information and Nolo has several books that are worthwhile. Always nice to have an attorney on the board but not actually necessary.

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