Dear Dinosaur: Board directors of our organization want to express their individuality and share their honest feelings with others outside of the board when they were not in agreement with the vote. When they do, those impacted by the vote feel hurt, disappointed, or pushed out. It seems that we are setting up a rift between the “voice” of the board and the rights of individual directors. Where is the line of what can be reasonably shared?
Answer: In a private nonprofit organization, the line is drawn when trouble and strife result from actions of individual directors.
As readers know, it is the final board vote that matters, not the views of individuals leading up to it. Also, a situation like this could stifle internal board conversation for fear that words said, however kindly intended and honest, may be shared beyond the board in an unknown and personal context.
We recommend that nonprofit boards require that discussion and voting on delicate issues, particularly pertaining to individuals, grants, awards, etc., must be conducted in executive session, and that the opinions of those involved may not be discussed outside of executive session. (The whole question is different for bodies subject to sunshine laws, of course.) If such a policy is passed, directors are bound to follow it by their duty of obedience.
See our article:
Dear Dinosaur provides simple, practical answers to questions about Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure. Send your questions to Dear Dinosaur here. Our answers are based on Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 12th edition. As always, nothing in this post constitutes legal or business advice. For specific issues, seek a qualified authority.