Our 501(c)(3) high school football club is having elections soon. The parents of one of our players are divorced. His mother, his father, and his step-father are all running for office. Can one family member be President and another be Treasurer? Can they all serve on the board? The club’s constitution and bylaws are silent on the question. More than a couple of members have raised the conflict of interest question. Ethically, it is an easy answer, but “legally” not quite sure.
This goes back to my favorite question: Whose organization is it? (See Ready Reference Page: “The Key Question: Whose Organization Is It?”) If enough members are offended, it sounds as though they don’t have to elect all or any of the parents.
I don’t think this is a legal issue. Some nonprofit corporation laws limit the percentage of related persons who may serve on a board, but it is unlikely that a husband and wife couple would exceed the limit. The IRS has focused on family relationships on the new Form 990, but that question is for information, and is not a limitation.
It is obviously not a great idea for the current wife and husband to be President and Treasurer of a club like this. It removes one of the important financial checks and balances. (Of course, electing the divorced wife and husband, or the two men, to those positions might provide an exceptional check and balance.) Whatever the members want to do, however, it looks like they can. If you want to prevent spouses from serving in those positions, you can always change the bylaws.