Conflicts of Interest Policy

A Conflicts of Interest Policy helps create a culture of honesty within a non-profit organization by preventing its board of directors from personally benefiting from their service.

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All non-profit entities and charities have one goal in common – to help others. Whether it's to improve the quality of life for a specific community or raise funds for a school, assisting is the critical element.

Unlike businesses and corporations, private and financial gain isn't and shouldn't be the goal. However, people with executive positions in non-profit organizations are typically busy people. And, as such, they may sometimes overlook specific conflicts of interest they may have in their roles.

These conflicted roles needn't be nefarious, and you can easily manage them if they're talked about openly. Furthermore, disclose any potential conflicts of interest in an official document called a Conflict of Interest Policy.

What Is a Conflicts of Interest Policy?

Even if a director or someone in a position of authority at a non-profit organization doesn't have a specific conflict of interest, they should sign the policy regardless.

They can simply state that a conflict of interest doesn't exist. On the other hand, this type of policy allows people in power to be fair and open about any possible conflicts.

But it's also mandatory for the non-profit organization leaders to abide by Duty of Loyalty, which describes their obligation to act in the organization's best interest.

On top of that, as a tax-exempt entity, every non-profit organization is required to submit an IRS 990 Form. The form acknowledges that the organization's board of directors signed Conflicts of Interest Policies.

Other Names for Conflicts of Interest Policy

Depending on your state, you may also know a Conflicts of Interest Policy as:

  • Charity Conflicts of Interest Policy
  • Conflicts of Interest in the Non-Profit Entity
  • Conflicts of Interest Disclosure Form
  • Non-Profit Conflicts of Interest Policy

Who Needs a Conflicts of Interest Policy?

Essentially, every non-profit entity that is considered tax-exempt is required to create Conflicts of Interest Policies.

There are many types of non-profit organizations such as unions, religious institutions, social welfare organizations, recreational clubs, teacher associations, veterans' organizations, and similar.

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How to Create a Conflicts of Interest Policy

A Conflicts of Interest Policy form isn't a complicated document. But it needs to contain important details regarding potential conflicts of interest by directors of the board.

You must have a clear purpose of the policy and clearly define what conflict of interest is within an organization. We can make this process easy for you.

Let 360 Legal Forms help with our extensive library of attorney-vetted legal forms. The process is fast and easy. All you have to do is fill out our easy-to-understand questionnaire. Once complete, simply download your form as a PDF or Word document from your secure online account.

What Information Will I Need to Create My Conflicts of Interest Policy?

To create your document, please provide:

  • Name of the Organization: The official name of the non-profit organization
  • Purpose: A short explanation of why the COI policy is necessary
  • Definition: What constitutes a conflict of interest within the organization
  • Policy Practices: A list of most common conflicts of interest within the organization
  • Specified Conflict: An additional space for a specific conflict
  • Violations: A detailed description of a particular event
  • Signature: Director's name and signature
  • Date: The exact date of signing

Conflicts of Interest Policy Terms

  • Non-Profit: A type of institution that operates for the benefit of public or social benefit
  • Fiduciary Duty: A legal obligation to act in the best interest of another person
  • Board of Directors: A type of decision-making committee that supervises activities in a non-profit
  • IRS 990 Form: A type of IRS tax form for organizations exempt from income tax
  • Nepotism: A practice of favoring relatives and friends by those in power by giving them positions
  • Self-Dealing: Taking advantage of your job, breaking fiduciary duty
  • Meeting Minutes: Formal notes made during a board of director's meeting
  • Tax-Exempt: Some or all transactions in an entity are not subject to federal, state, or local tax
  • Inurement: Inappropriate use of assets, usually for personal gain, within an organization

Conflicts of Interest Policy Signing Requirements

Before a director or an employee of a non-profit organization signs the policy, they should take the time to review it.

Often, the document requires them to choose from the list of potential conflicts, and other times they must enter specific information. Upon reading and reviewing, they should sign the policy before a board president or the secretary.

What to Do With Your Conflicts of Interest Policy

The Conflicts of Interest Policy doesn't require notarization, and you don't have to file with a government entity.

However, it should be noted in the organizations' meeting minutes and kept on file. Both the organization and the person signing the policy should have a copy of the form.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many ways a director can find themselves in a conflict of interest, but let’s look at a couple of examples: Imagine if you're a member of your child's school board and the child gets into a problem with a teacher.
Should that teacher’s dismissal ever be discussed at the board meeting, you would have a conflict of interest.
Another typical example is receiving gifts such as concert tickets, expensive dinners, or free hotel stays. While these might not necessarily influence you, there is no guarantee that they won’t.

You should disclose a conflict of interest during the first meeting of the board of directors. The board president should take it upon themselves to introduce the Conflicts of Interest Policy form and ask every member to fill it out and sign it. If you note any conflicts of interest, everyone can freely discuss them.

Yes, they can, and they often do. But even though there usually isn't any genuine concern for creating a conflict of interest, it should be noted.
If a person is already a member of the board in one non-profit entity, they should sign a Conflicts of Interest Policy where you state that fact.

Conflicts of interest that are not managed and disclosed in a policy can result in severe penalties.
These are called intermediate sanctions. And can be applied to those who have benefited from their actions and against the organization itself. Sometimes, the member of the board can be removed for some time or indefinitely.

One of the best ways to handle conflicts of interest in any organization is to obtain competitive bids, in writing, for all major purchases.
For example, one member of the board might own a restaurant. At the same time, the organization is preparing an event that requires catering services.
To avoid conflict of interest, the board member owning a restaurant can also suggest other catering services submit their proposals.
Finally, discussing the potential conflicts openly and recusing yourself when you find yourself in a battle are excellent practices as well.

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