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Should president appoint nominating committee for nonprofit?

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Should president appoint nominating committee for nonprofit?

I am the president of a nonprofit organization and am about to be up for re-election. Our bylaws say that the president may appoint the members of the nominating committee but may not be a member of the committee.  Should I ask officers of the board who are not up for re-election to appoint the members of the committee, or should I make the appointments (even though it may appear that I am stacking the deck)?

Assuming you would like to be re-elected, I don’t know why you wouldn’t appoint the nominating committee, just as you are supposed to do under the bylaws.  Whoever wrote the bylaws must have contemplated that a president would want to run for re-election at some point in the organization’s future.  The power to appoint the committee is one of the advantages of incumbency.  No one can think badly of you for fulfilling your duties under the bylaws.  (If you were not interested in re-election, there would be no reason to let someone else appoint the committee.)

Depending on who you like — or dislike — you might want to ask yourself:  what would Nancy Pelosi do? Or:  what would Mitch McConnell do?  They seem to know how to get themselves elected.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


There is an expedient, status-quo protecting answer, and there is a better answer. If the bylaws say the president may appoint the nominating committee, doing so gets you compliance with bylaws, yes. But, the issue in question is fundamentally one of ethics. Of course appointing people to nominate candidates of which the appointing party is one is stacking the deck. It is not even gray, no matter the stewardship and care an individual appointer might demonstrate. This is a procedural and more deeply structural flaw, and we should disabuse ourselves of the idea that just because bylaws were written a certain way that that way is good and right and doesn't warrant change. The work, and governance of that work, by nonprofits are to serve public good, and not about locking in individual or group "power." More, power has not been shared equitably in any of our systems--nonprofit organizations or otherwise. So, in 2022, when society is way too late to remedy what was already way too wrong, it is tone deaf at best--but potentially intentionally hegemonic--to think of this situation as an opportunity to hold onto "power" via (bad) bylaw technicality. Path forward should include introducing a change to the bylaws that makes this process more equitable by preventing deck stacking--lots of options to secure appointments. Consider a broader equity audit of processes to flag and fix stuff like this proactively.

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