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  • Writer's pictureBruce Mattare

The Truth About Sitting on Non-Profit Boards

Last week I wrote about how emotion can overtake our decision-making process, especially when it comes to political candidates and whether they have the right qualifications for the job (Click Here). This is why so many people become disenchanted with their politicians, because these elected officials don't have the right qualifications for the job. Now I want to discuss what it means to sit on a Board.

Obviously, I sit on the Board of County Commissioners and as a member it's YOU who put me onto it. My hope is that you voted for me because of my many years of experience in the business world and qualifications for the job...not just likability. (Note: If it was just my likability, then that's okay. However, you should really want qualifications to be the main factor.)

Why Non-Profit Boards Often Don't Require Business Qualifications?


A lot of people don’t know what it means to be selected to sit on a non-profit board. Surprisingly, there’s a big difference between sitting on a “for profit” corporate board and a “non-profit” charity board.


When you’re selected to sit on a corporate board, it’s usually because you have legitimate business experience and can bring experience and skill to enhance shareholder value, which is the primary function of management with a for-profit board’s oversight. With large publicly traded corporations, you make a profit or you lose your shareholders a lot of wealth. There is no room for mistakes.


Non-Profit Boards Usually Don’t Select People for Merit


It’s true.


To begin with, nobody can own a non-profit entity. That's right...nobody actually OWNS a non-profit entity.

This includes the people who started and run non-profits, like charities and churches. You cannot own them. There are no shares or interest to own. Instead, you CONTROL them.


If you start a non-profit and you are the “CEO” then you want to make sure that whoever is on your non-profit's board are people you can trust, so they won’t oust you later and take over your non-profit entity. That’s why you often see friends, family, employees and even cronies put on non-profit boards. This is done because the CEO wants ABSOLUTE LOYALTY and allegiance to him or her.


It’s also not uncommon for people who sit on a non-profit board to also sit on other non-profit boards. It's a way of looking out for each other. In short, there’s a lot of cross pollination between the different non-profit entities. But in the end, CEOs want boards that are loyal to them. Still not sure?


Ever Heard of Project Veritas?


That was the non-profit entity started by James O’Keefe. One of the things he had to do was select people to be on his non-profit board. Well, as time went by that didn’t work out so well for him. After doing a lot of good work exposing corruption and other misdeeds, he was ousted on February 20, 2023 from the very entity he started.

That's right. He started Project Veritas and the board ousted

him from running his own organization.

That's why the people who start and run non-profit entities are very VERY careful about who they select to sit on their board.


Next time somebody says they sit on a non-profit board, ask why that board selected him or her. You can bet dollars to doughnuts it had a lot more to do with loyalty than with merit.

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