Resources for Developing or Revising Conflict of Interest Policies
The following resources may be helpful in developing or revising a conflict of interest policy:
- Instructions to IRS Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3). Appendix A contains a sample conflict of interest policy.
- Sample policies available from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center’s web site.
- BoardSource, various publications including, Managing Conflicts of Interest: A Primer for Nonprofit Boards, Daniel L. Kurtz and Sarah E. Paul (BoardSource, 2006); also "Can Conflicts of Interest be an Obstacle to Board Service?".
- National Council of Nonprofit Associations (NCNA), "Conflict of Interest Policy and Disclosure Form" (under "Sample Policies").
- Council on Foundations, various publications including “Conflict of Interest: A Guide to Key Provisions.” Use search function from web site.
- Sample Policy contained in The AICPA Audit Committee Toolkit. (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, 2005), scroll down.
- Minnesota Attorney General's Office, "Conflict of Interest Policy," Click on “Charities,” then scroll down to find sample policies.
- New York State Attorney General’s Office, “Internal Controls and Financial Accountability for Not-For-Profit Corporations.”
Policy on Conflicts of Interest
Disclaimer: This sample policy is offered for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. Organizations wishing to use this policy may do so, but should tailor it to their own specific circumstances.
It is in the best interest of [Name of Nonprofit] to be aware of and properly manage all conflicts of interest and appearances of a conflict of interest. This conflict of interest policy is designed to help directors, officers, employees and volunteers of the [Name of Nonprofit] identify situations that present potential conflicts of interest and to provide [Name of Nonprofit] with a procedure to appropriately manage conflicts in accordance with legal requirements and the goals of accountability and transparency in [Name of Nonprofit’s] operations.
1. Conflict of Interest Defined. In this policy, a person with a conflict of interest is referred to as an “interested person.” For purposes of this policy, the following circumstances shall be deemed to create a Conflict of Interest:
a. A director, officer, employee or volunteer, including a board member (or family member of any of the foregoing) is a party to a contract, or involved in a transaction with [Name of Nonprofit] for goods or services.
b. A director, officer, employee or volunteer, (or a family member of any of the foregoing) has a material financial interest in a transaction between [Name of Nonprofit] and an entity in which the director, officer, employee or volunteer, or a family member of the foregoing, is a director, officer, agent, partner, associate, employee, trustee, personal representative, receiver, guardian, custodian, or other legal representative.
c. A director, officer, employee or volunteer, (or a family member of the foregoing) is engaged in some capacity or has a material financial interest in a business or enterprise that competes with [Name of Nonprofit].
Gifts, Gratuities and Entertainment. Accepting gifts, entertainment or other favors from individuals or entities can also result in a conflict or duality of interest when the party providing the gift/entertainment/favor does so under circumstances where it might be inferred that such action was intended to influence or possibly would influence the interested person in the performance of his or her duties. This does not preclude the acceptance of items of nominal or insignificant value or entertainment of nominal or insignificant value which are not related to any particular transaction or activity of [Name of Nonprofit].
a. A "Conflict of Interest" is any circumstance described in Part 1 of this Policy.
b. An "Interested Person" is any person serving as an officer, employee or member of the Board of Directors of [Name of Nonprofit] or a major donor to [Name of Nonprofit] or anyone else who is in a position of control over [Name of Nonprofit] who has a personal interest that is in conflict with the interests of [Name of Nonprofit].
c. A "Family Member" is a spouse, parent, child or spouse of a child, brother, sister, or spouse of a brother or sister, of an interested person.
d. A "Material Financial Interest" in an entity is a financial interest of any kind, which, in view of all the circumstances, is substantial enough that it would, or reasonably could, affect an Interested Person’s or Family Member's judgment with respect to transactions to which the entity is a party.
e. A "Contract or Transaction" is any agreement or relationship involving the sale or purchase of goods or services, the providing or receipt of a loan or grant, the establishment of any other type of financial relationship, or the exercise of control over another organization. The making of a gift to [Name of Nonprofit] is not a Contract or Transaction.
a. Prior to board or committee action on a Contract or Transaction involving a Conflict of Interest, a director or committee member having a Conflict of Interest and who is in attendance at the meeting shall disclose all facts material to the Conflict of Interest. Such disclosure shall be reflected in the minutes of the meeting. If board members are aware that staff or other volunteers have a conflict of interest, relevant facts should be disclosed by the board member or by the interested person him/herself if invited to the board meeting as a guest for purposes of disclosure.
b. A director or committee member who plans not to attend a meeting at which he or she has reason to believe that the board or committee will act on a matter in which the person has a Conflict of Interest shall disclose to the chair of the meeting all facts material to the Conflict of Interest. The chair shall report the disclosure at the meeting and the disclosure shall be reflected in the minutes of the meeting.
c. A person who has a Conflict of Interest shall not participate in or be permitted to hear the board's or committee's discussion of the matter except to disclose material facts and to respond to questions. Such person shall not attempt to exert his or her personal influence with respect to the matter, either at or outside the meeting.
d. A person who has a Conflict of Interest with respect to a Contract or Transaction that will be voted on at a meeting shall not be counted in determining the presence of a quorum for purposes of the vote. Such person's ineligibility to vote shall be reflected in the minutes of the meeting. For purposes of this paragraph, a member of the Board of Directors of [Name of Nonprofit] has a Conflict of Interest when he or she stands for election as an officer or for re-election as a member of the Board of Directors.
e. Interested Persons who are not members of the Board of Directors of [Name of Nonprofit], or who have a Conflict of Interest with respect to a Contract or Transaction that is not the subject of Board or committee action, shall disclose to their supervisor, or the Chair or the Chair's designee any Conflict of Interest that such Interested Person has with respect to a Contract or Transaction. Such disclosure shall be made as soon as the Conflict of Interest is known to the Interested Person. The Interested Person shall refrain from any action that may affect [Name of Nonprofit]’s participation in such Contract or Transaction.
In the event it is not entirely clear that a Conflict of Interest exists, the individual with the potential conflict shall disclose the circumstances to his or her supervisor or the Chair or the Chair's designee, who shall determine whether full board discussion is warranted or whether there exists a Conflict of Interest that is subject to this policy.
4. Confidentiality. Each director, officer, employee and volunteer shall exercise care not to disclose confidential information acquired in connection with disclosures of conflicts of interest or potential conflicts, which might be adverse to the interests of [Name of Nonprofit]. Furthermore, directors, officers, employees and volunteers shall not disclose or use information relating to the business of [Name of Nonprofit] for their personal profit or advantage or the personal profit or advantage of their Family Member(s).
5. Review of policy.
a. Each director, officer, employee and volunteer shall be provided with and asked to review a copy of this Policy and to acknowledge in writing that he or she has done so.
b. Annually each director, officer, employee and volunteer shall complete a disclosure form identifying any relationships, positions or circumstances in which s/he is involved that he or she believes could contribute to a Conflict of Interest. Such relationships, positions or circumstances might include service as a director of or consultant to another nonprofit organization, or ownership of a business that might provide goods or services to [Name of Nonprofit]. Any such information regarding the business interests of a director, officer, employee or volunteer, or a Family Member thereof, shall be treated as confidential and shall generally be made available only to the Chair, the Executive Director, and any committee appointed to address Conflicts of Interest, except to the extent additional disclosure is necessary in connection with the implementation of this Policy.
c. This policy shall be reviewed annually by each member of the Board of Directors. Any changes to the policy shall be communicated to all staff and volunteers
Basic Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form [insert date]
Please describe below any relationships, transactions, positions you hold (volunteer or otherwise), or circumstances that you believe could contribute to a conflict of interest between [Name of Nonprofit] and your personal interests, financial or otherwise:
_____ I have no conflict of interest to report
_____ I have the following conflict of interest to report (please specify other nonprofit and for-profit boards you (and your spouse) sit on, any for-profit businesses for which you or an immediate family member are an officer or director, or a majority shareholder, and the name of your employer and any businesses you or a family member own):
I hereby certify that the information set forth above is true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I have reviewed, and agree to abide by, the Policy of Conflict of Interest of
[Name of Nonprofit].