Can nonprofit board members be held personally liable?

 

“Can board members be personally liable for what happens in their homeschool group?”

Well…that’s really a legal question and I’m an accountant, not a lawyer, but here’s a recent news story about board members of a nonprofit nursing home. They were held personally liable for failing to do their “fiduciary duties.”

Court Holds Officers and Directors of Non-Profit Healthcare Facility Personally Liable to Creditors for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

The court ruled that the officers, specifically the nonprofit’s administrator and CFO, and board of directors were jointly and severally liable to creditors in the amount of $2.25 million.

What did they do wrong? It’s a long list:

  • breached their respective duties of care
  • did not keep adequate financial records
  • breaches of the duty of loyalty owed to the nonprofit through self-dealing
  • the board failed to remove an incompetent administrator and CFO
  • severely mismanaged the nonprofit, a nursing home
  • the administrator diverted grant funds that were provided by a community foundation
  • The CFO was found to have engaged in self-dealing

The author, attorney Robert Blaisdell concludes by saying,

“This case is significant because it exemplifies the trend of holding officers and directors of non-profit entities personally liable for breach of their fiduciary duty to the corporation.”

Did you get that? “Personally liable for breach of their fiduciary duties.” That means the board members must pay, from their own pocket, damages because they didn’t do their job as board members!

Don’t let this happen to you!

Know your duties as board members and do them.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

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