Board Members Who Don’t Do Anything

I hear from a lot of homeschool leaders that they have board members who don’t do much. How frustrating.

Don’t ignore the problem. Do something. The problem is likely to get worse and a board member who is not participating can demoralize the entire board. But stay hopeful. Many board members need a reminder to be more conscientious. You’re all in this together. But some inactive board members may need to be let go. They may be grateful that you’ve given them a graceful way to reduce their work load or even leave the board.

Here’s some more advice from Blue Avacado’s Board Cafe collection on strategies to deal with board members who won’t do anything with a few comments from me thrown in.

Short-term strategies

  • Check to be sure that expectations were made clear to the board member before he or she joined the board. “I know you joined the board recently and I’m not sure that you realize that we ask all board members to attend the annual dinner and, hopefully, to help sell tickets. Let me explain to you what most board members do, so you can see whether you’ll be able to work on this with us.”

Here’s a good list of Requirements of Board members.to get you started.

  • Hold a board discussion at which expectations are reconsidered and reaffirmed. Agree on a list of minimal expectations for every board member, and ask people to suggest how they might individually help as well.
  • Be sensitive to possible health issues or personal reasons why a good board member isn’t participating as much as he or she has in the past.

Remember, homeschool leaders carry a lot or responsibility. Your inactive member may be having health, marriage, or parenting problems that she is not sharing with you. Show grace and compassion and she may be so grateful for your support that she becomes active again.

  • Transfer responsibilities to someone else. “I’m concerned about finishing the revision of the personnel policies. Since you’re so busy, maybe it would work out for the best if John took your notes on the policies and developed a first draft.”

The treasurer job is one of the most difficult positions to fill. If you need help with bookkeeping, my list of homeschool moms who know bookkeeping and can help you remotely.

  • Together with the board member, explore whether he or she really has the time right now to be an active board member. “I’m calling to check in with you since you haven’t been able to make a meeting in the last several months. Are you temporarily a lot busier than usual? We really want to have your participation, but if it isn’t realistic, perhaps we should see if there’s a less time-consuming way than board membership for you to be involved.”

Longer-term strategies

  • Make it possible for individuals to take a leave of absence from the board if they have health, work, or other reasons why they cannot participate fully for a while. An individual can, for example, take a six-month maternity leave or a disability leave.
  • Have a board discussion or conduct a written board survey on what makes it difficult for people to participate fully. “Are there things we can change about the frequency, day, time, or length of board meetings that would make it easier for you to attend?” “Are there things about the way that board meetings are conducted that would make it easier for you to attend or that would give you more reason to want to attend?”
  • Consider whether board participation is meaningful to board members. Have a discussion with semi active members: “I’m sensing that board participation just isn’t as significant as some board members want it to be. What do you think are the reasons, and what do you think we can do to make board membership more meaningful?”
  • Revise what is expected of board members. Perhaps responsibilities have been given to a board member that are unrealistic for any but the super-board-member. Reduce the number of committees and utilize short-term task forces or committees instead. Redesign jobs and responsibilities to fit the ability of a busy achiever to accomplish them.

The three-video set will to train your homeschool group’s board members. Many homeschool leaders have never served on a nonprofit board before so these videos explain the duties of a board, its structure, how to run a meeting, and more. For more details visit: Homeschool Board Training video set


Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Can a homeschool co-op board also be paid teachers?

I have a question about the conflict of interest issue. Three ladies and I would like to incorporate to teach classes together and form a homeschool co-op.
If we are the three board members, then does that mean we can not profit by also teaching? Do you have any article that clarifies that? Thank you!

You asked, “ If we are the three board members, then does that mean we can not profit by also teaching?

Correct. Board members have a duty of loyalty to the nonprofit and cannot personally benefit from the organization.  That is considered

Correct. Board members have a duty of loyalty to the nonprofit and cannot personally benefit from the organization.  That is considered a conflict of interest, self-dealing, and possibly inurement. You are not an independent board; there is no one independent on the board to vote to hire the other members as teachers. You all have conflicts of interest.

In general, it is not a good practice for nonprofits to have paid staff also serve as board members. In some states it’s forbidden by law. For example in California a nonprofit cannot have more than 49% of its board be paid staff or related to paid staff.

Here are two articles on the duties of care and loyalty for nonprofit board members
Serving on a Nonprofit Board: What’s Required?
What are the legal responsibilities of homeschool leaders?


You have three choices:
1. Form a for-profit three person partnership. Then you all spit the profits of the partnership as your pay for operating and owning the partnership. You should talk to a small business lawyer and CPA to help you draw up a partnership agreement and understand the tax aspects.

2. The co-op operates as a nonprofit organization and would need to create an unrelated, independent board. Then the board can choose to hire you three as employees (teachers). You would relinquish the control of the group to this board.

3. The co-op operates as a nonprofit organization and you three can serve on the board as volunteers, but then the board must be larger than three people so it can have can vote (without you) on hiring any of you as paid teachers. This may work for one person with dual roles as a board member and teacher, but in general it is not a good practice for nonprofit to have paid staff also serve as board members.

Overall, without knowing more or having a consultation with you, I would recommend Option 2. You three relinquish the control of the group to an independent board who can decide to hire you. Or if that is not what you want, go with Option 3, but at most one of you can also serve as a paid teacher.


Board Training Video set

This video training set on nonprofit boards will help you understand how a board is set up and its duties to he nonprofit it serves.

The three-video set will to train your homeschool group’s board members. Many homeschool leaders have never served on a nonprofit board before so these videos explain the duties of a board, its structure, how to run a meeting, and more. For more details visit: Homeschool Board Training video set

Bonus: Buy before March 31, 2022

If you purchase video set before March 31, 2022 you will be invited to a live Zoom call in to ask for questions.
It’s like having a CPA (Carol) and experienced homeschool leader (BeckY0 for an a hour at no extra charge! The live session will be in early April 2022. It will be recorded and added to the set, so you get 3 videos!


Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Board members and officers explained visually

Are you confused by the jargon used with nonprofits?

  • Board member
  • Officers
  • Executive Director

Many homeschool leaders get confused by these titles and the roles they have in a homeschool nonprofit organizations, so I created a visual way to explain these terms using a Venn diagram (can you tell I used to be a homeschool mom?!)

Here’s an excerpt from the two part video set

Board Training for Homeschool Groups

The full video set is available for purchase at HomeschoolCPA.com/Board Training.



Bonus offer: Buy before April 11, 2022


If you purchase the Board Training for Homeschool Groups video set before April 11, 2022, you will be invited to a live Zoom call in to ask hosts Carol Topp and Becky Abrams any questions you have about nonprofit boards for homeschool organizations. The live session will be offered on Monday April 11, 2022 at 8 pm EDT. The recording will be added to the video set, so you will get three videos!

The video set costs $40 and includes two videos each about 40-50 minutes and a copy of Carol Topp’s ebook Homeschool Board Member Manual..


Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Homeschool Board Training videos

We are so pleased to announce that HomeschoolCPA.com and HomeschoolLeaders.com have released a set of two (and soon to be three) videos to train homeschool board members!

We really felt the need to train board members since many homeschool leaders have never served on a nonprofit board before.

We cover a lot in these two videos including:

  • Nonprofit Characteristics (how they are different from a business)
  • Board Composition (who is on the board?)
  • Board Structure (roles, titles, committees, paid staff, etc)
  • Board Duties (what doe the board members do?)
  • Board Meetings: How to stay on track
  • Bylaws
  • Board Personalities

BONUS: In addition to the two videos (each is about 40-50 minutes long), included is a copy of Carol Topp’s ebook Homeschool Board Member Manual.

ANOTHER BONUS: Hosts Carol Topp and Becky Abrams will host a LIVE Q&A in April 2022 to answer your questions for everyone that purchases the set before March 30, 2022. This live session will be recorded and added to the video set. So you get three videos!

A THIRD BONUS: Because we want all board members trained, you will be allowed to share the link to the videos and slides with your CURRENT board members.

For more details visit: Homeschool Board Training video set


So don’t delay. Purchase your set by March 30, 2022, watch the videos, and then join us with your questions about homeschool boards in our Live Zoom meeting in April 2022.
(Note: Video Part 2 should be accessible on March 10, 2022)


Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Serving on a nonprofit board: What is required?

BoardRoom2

I think we have 3 people willing to be on the board. Their main question is time commitment. I have no idea what to tell them. Do you have any support materials to help leaders judge this?

Jennifer in North Carolina

Jennifer,

Board commitment can vary a lot. Some homeschool organizations need everyone to pitch in on co-op day, but the board may only meet once a month for 1-2 hour long meetings.

The more important issue is that potential board members consider their duties as board members.

Each board member has a fiduciary (i.e. legal) duty to manage the organization and its funds within the purpose/mission of the organization and not for private gain or benefit. The board’s job is to govern the organization, be responsible for the management of funds, and be responsible for its programs.

From Ohio Attorney General Guide for Charity Board Members comes this excellent list of the duties of board members (with my comments and links added).

Duty of Care

  • Read and understand mission, vision, and governing documents. I recommend a board binder for important documents.
  • Attend board and committee meetings.
  • Be informed and prepared to participate in decision-making and oversight.
  • Exercise same care as a prudent person would in the handling of their own affairs.

Duty of Loyalty

  • Be prepared to put organizational objectives above self-interest.
  • Establish and follow written policies concerning conflict of interest situations.
  • Disclose personal financial interests when needed/excuse yourself from voting. See a sample Conflict of Interest policy.
  • Avoid entering into business relationships between board members and the organization. That means hiring board members as teachers, bookkeepers, etc. Hired workers should step down from serving on the board.

Duty of Management

  • Develop policies that assure the financial responsibility of the organization. Get my list of best practices to prevent fraud.
  • Keep accurate and complete records of income, expenses, investments, and minutes.
  • Develop budget as a blueprint for program plans and all organizational spending. My book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization and webinar on Financial Reports can help you create a budget.
  • Develop fundraising goals and assist the organization in acquiring adequate resources.

Duty of Compliance

I hope this list of duties doesn’t scare away your potential board members! I have found that serving on a nonprofit board has been one of the most rewarding things I have done.


Homeschool Board Training

The three-video set will to train your homeschool group’s board members. Many homeschool leaders have never served on a nonprofit board before so these videos explain the duties of a board, its structure, how to run a meeting, and more. For more details visit: Homeschool Board Training video set


Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

What to do about a controlling and narcissist leader

The leader of our co-op refers to the co-op as “her group to protect.” She has surrounded herself with a board who supports her fully and does her bidding without question. The difficulty is, when questioned about decisions she has made by co-op members, this leader has  told co-op members that the board makes decisions and that the way things are run are none of their (the co-op member’s) business. She is a very capable in many areas, however she is controlling and many times unkind.

Unfortunately, the board members are blind to all of this. They support her fully. Co-op moms are afraid to confront this leader for fear of the consequences. She is sweet to those who support her and speaks poorly/holds a grudge against those who conflict with her. 

My question is what can we do? Because our co-op is not under the authority of a church, there were no pastors, counselors, or elders to help resolve the conflict. Is it common for co-op boards to have some sort of outside oversight to help with internal conflict resolution?

This is such a great group of women, but I fear that even a loving confrontation with this leader would cause a split in the group. I do not want to “take down” this leader.  —

I appreciate any advice or counsel you can give. Thank you.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth,

I’m sorry to hear about the narcissistic and over-controlling leader you have. Unfortunately, there is not much oversight of nonprofit boards, unless they are doing something criminal. Then you report them to your state’s attorney general.

The group should have bylaws. Try to get your hands on a copy of the bylaws. Perhaps you could see where she is in violation of the bylaws and start there. I would recommend that you gather a small team and then a group of you approach a current board member with your concerns.

Don’t go it alone. Be very specific. List dates and specific examples of how the bylaws are violated. Ask for a current board member to request changes to the bylaws such as term limits on all officers. That’s a start.

It may not work because your leader sounds like a narcissist to me. Over-controlling and narcissistic leaders don’t listen to anyone.

Narcissistic leaders

I’ve been reading a lot about narcissism lately. Here’s an article that explains the characteristics of a narcissist leader. So-Called “Strong” Leaders

Almost all the experts like psychologist DorctorRammani on YouTube say that a lot of leaders (like your board members who do whatever the leaders wants) do not recognize narcissism or its dangers. They advise that the best approach is to stay away from the narcissist.

Your only choice may be to leave. That may be the only way to protect yourself from emotional harm. But be sure to speak privately with a board member (but not the narcissist leader) first so they know your reasons for leaving.

Be prepared to be gas-lighted (where they make you out to be the bad guy!) or slandered (trying to damage your reputation) or gossiped about or be called “a hater,” or “divisive” etc. Unfortunately, some narcissists can get nasty when they feel threatened.

Take care!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Paying a homeschool leader to start business and benefit the homeschool group

We are a new unincorporated nonprofit association and our Director has applied to become a notary. Can we use our fundraising funds to cover the cost for her to become a notary?

She would be offering complimentary notary services to all our members. We would charging a fee for notary services for people who are not members of our homeschool group. What are the legal ramifications for this?

Thank you for your time and assistance!

TA in Illinois

Dear TA,

Thank you for contacting me.

Your homeschool group should not pay for the Director to become a notary. That’s like your homeschool group paying for someone to attend medical school if they promise to give free physical exams to all members. No! Okay, that’s an extreme example, but you get the idea. 🙂

Your homeschool organization’s purpose is educational, not to fund someone’s business.

Becoming a notary is a business expense for an individual and your nonprofit should not be paying personal, business expenses for an individual.

The IRS could see this as “inurement” which is when the assets of a nonprofit (the money from fundraising) flows to benefit an individual. Sometimes it’s better called “private benefit” or “self-dealing.” Inurement is strictly forbidden by the IRS and could cause your organization to lose its tax exempt status. That’s a pretty serious legal ramification!

Don’t pay for the leader’s personal expenses to become a notary with the nonprofit’s funds.

Additionally, making money by charging nonmembers for services that are not related to your purpose (education) is called Unrelated Business Income and is subject to income tax. So that’s a financial ramification on your Director’s idea.

I discuss unrelated business income and the tax here: What is Unrelated Business Income Tax?

And in this podcast episode:
What is Unrelated Business Income Tax or UBIT? (podcast)

I hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping homeschool leaders

How can our board members lead and get paid for it?

Hi Carol,
We have questions about how and if we are able to file as a 501(c)3 so that our directors can continue to lead the group while getting compensated for their time and efforts. Do you have any resources for this type of information?

Thank you for your time,

Lisa R

Lisa,

You asked an excellent question about how “our directors can continue to lead the group while getting compensated for their time and efforts.”

It is very difficult and sometimes not possible or desirable to compensate your board members. It creates conflicts of interest, self-dealing and could be forbidden by your state nonprofit laws and even exclude your organization from being granted 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by the IRS.

I’m glad you mentioned that you are in California because California has a law that forbids more than 49% of a nonprofit board to be composed of compensated individuals (or their family members).

This website (from nonprofit lawyers in California) explains the 49% rule:

Under California Section 5227, not more than 49% of a public benefit corporation’s governing body may be composed of “interested directors,” defined as –
(a) Any person who has been compensated by the corporation for services within the last 12 months, and
(b) Any member of such a person’s family.

Source: https://www.adlercolvin.com/what-every-nonprofit-b…
Scroll down to C. Conflicts of Interest and read the entire section.

One more resource in plain English is The California Attorney General’s Guide to Charities. http://npocpas.com/assets/guide_for_charities.pdf….
Go to page 20 and read 3. Duty of Loyalty and Conflict of Interest.


So in a nutshell, your board members need to be independent from conflicts of interest. Being compensated creates a conflict of interest.

I discourage nonprofit boards from being compensated. Most nonporift advocates encourage board members to serve as volunteers.

But you have two options:

Your board needs to be large enough that the individuals being compensated are the minority and are not guilty of self dealing or conflicts of interest. That may be very difficult to do.

Or the other option is to hire help like a bookkeeper or administrative assistant who would not be board members. This may free up the board to serve as volunteers and then have no conflicts of interest.

My book that addresses paying board members is Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA

What do the Duties of Care and Loyalty look like?

HomeschoolCPA Carol Topp frequently mentions that homeschool leaders have a duty of care and loyalty to their groups. What does a duty of care look like? How does a leader know know if she is being loyal?

This is the second part of a 4-part series on tips for homeschool leaders a workshop given to homeschool leaders in Austin Texas in February 2020.

Some of the ways to demonstrate a duty of care and loyalty for a leader include:

  • Have Board meetings
  • Manage the money well
  • Have insurance
  • Avoiding conflict of interest
  • No self dealing (the board gives itself discounts)

In the 4 part podcast series Carol discusses:

  • Episode #203   Leader mindset and attitudes
  • Episode # 204 What do the duties of care and loyalty look like?
  • Episode # 205  The duty of compliance with the laws for nonprofit organizations
  • Episode #206 Managing records and finances in you homeschool group

Each episode can be found at HomeschoolCPA.com/Podcast.

Handout of the workshop: https://homeschoolcpa.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Top-Tips-Handout-2020.docx

Helpful Resources

Money Management in a Homeschool Organization

  • Does your homeschool group manage their money well?
  • Do you have a budget and know where the money is spent?
  • Do you know how to prevent fraud?

This 115 page book will help you to open a checking account, establish a budget, prevent mistakes and fraud, use software to keep the books, prepare a financial statement and hire workers. Sample forms and examples of financial statements in clear English are provided.


A checklist of best practices to avoid embezzlement. It is available at HomeschoolCPA.com/Fraud

Podcast # 105 Podcast episode on preventing fraud

How to avoid self-dealing. The board cannot vote themselves benefits like discounts.  Listen to Podcast #71 on how to thank volunteers without self-dealing.

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Mindset for Homeschool Leaders

HomeschoolCPA, Carol Topp spoke to a group of homeschool group leaders in Texas about a good mindset and attitudes that are necessary for leading a homeschool group. In this episode Carol reminds leaders of three things they may have forgotten:

  • You cannot be all things to all people-so stop trying!
  • Your organization is not essential to the success of homeschooling!
  • You are not responsible for homeschooling other peoples’ children!

This is the first part of a 4-part series on Tips for Homeschool Leaders, a workshop given to homeschool leaders in Austin, Texas in February 2020.

In the 4 part podcast series Carol discusses:

  • Episode #203   Leader mindset and attitudes
  • Episode # 204 What do the duties of care and loyalty look like?
  • Episode # 205  The duty of compliance with the laws for nonprofit organizations
  • Episode #206 Managing records and finances in you homeschool group

Each episode can be found at HomeschoolCPA.com/Podcast.

Handout of the workshop: https://homeschoolcpa.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Top-Tips-Handout-2020.docx

During the podcast Carol mentioned the I am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook group. Please join us!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/72534255742/

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders