Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Friday, April 21, 2006

Board Member Compensation

The subject of board member compensation came up in a conversation I was having yesterday, and then this morning I came across an article about it in Philanthropy News Digest, "Nonprofit Board Compensation Continues to Spur Debate."

For the organizations that I work with - mostly small to mid-sized community organizations - it would be a shock to find that any of them pay their board members. For many of the largest nonprofits (hospitals, universities, some foundations), however, compensation is considered a requirement in order to "attract the best talent."

My personal feeling is in agreement with Daniel Borochoff, president of the Chicago-based charity watchdog American Institute of Philanthropy,"If a board is not willing to volunteer, why should anyone else?"

I spend a good part of my time emphasizing why every board member needs to commit to making a significant financial contribution to their organization. I can't imagine any scenario where I'd encourage them to ask for a paycheck.

Okay, for a national or regional board I can accept limited reimbursement of travel expenses to an annual meeting, but even then I'd expect most board members to refuse it. For a board where all members are locals, I wouldn't even go along with that level of reimbursement. Such expenses are tax-deductible by the individual members as the cost of volunteering; they don't need to be paid back by the nonprofit that they are supposed to be governing.

What do you think? Am I taking too much of a hard line on this issue? Do you compensate your nonprofit board members? Write to me (email link below) and let me know.

Also see Paid boards spur not-for-profit debate

1 comment:

  1. In Milwaukee our local native community school (about 300 children)compensates our unelected board of seven 1200 a month and has hired the former chair and board member as " school counsel" for 345,000 + benefits a year. The Indian community is angry but we have little recourse as 5 of the board is appointed. Board pay makes constituents mad.