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Should we ask directors about criminal record?

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Should we ask directors about criminal record?

Our 501(c)(3) human services agency was recently asked by a funder to certify that our directors did not have a criminal history. We had not asked this of our directors before, so we put together a brief questionnaire based on the "contractor integrity provisions" and asked board members to submit their own responses. Is this something that we should be doing regularly (given that histories change)? And if so, how often? I think some members found it invasive.

This question is becoming more prevalent from funders, particularly governmental funders, who want or need to know whether any of their service providers is governed by people with criminal records.  It seems to be a relatively new requirement for most funders and is often viewed as an invasion of privacy by the board, but there is generally a requirement for the information.

For those organizations that use the Unified Registration Statement to register for charitable solicitation in any of the 19 states and the District of Columbia that require registration, it is not a new question.  Those organizations are required to disclose whether any officer, director, or principal executive has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.  Except in a few situations, the response is for disclosure purposes only and does not disqualify the organization, but it must be submitted under penalty of perjury.

If the organization is required to make the disclosure, it would make sense to add a question to an annual conflict of interest disclosure form.  It would be less obtrusive and more likely to assure compliance.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

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