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Where can I report misconduct at nonprofit?

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Where can I report misconduct at nonprofit?

Where can you report unethical or illegal conduct of a nonprofit organization? There has been repeated verbal abuse, threats to other employees and theft by an employee. This employee has been reported by several employees on each incident to the immediate supervisor and the president of the board. There has been no action taken by the president or the supervisor. The employee is related to the board president.

From your statement that there have been threats to “other employees,” I assume that you are also an employee of the nonprofit.  If so, the first place I would look is the organization’s whistleblower policy.  Since the IRS asks on the Form 990 whether a nonprofit has a whistleblower policy, most nonprofits do.  You should ask to see it so that you can see what is covered and how to report. 

Most policies will cover reporting of theft but a less comprehensive policy might not cover reports of verbal abuse or threats.  It will also tell you to whom to report, which is probably the immediate supervisor first, and then the CEO or a member of the board, perhaps the president or head of the audit committee, if you are not satisfied with the supervisor’s response.  If you have already reported to the named individuals without results, you should go to the third alternative or another member of the board who you think might be sympathetic.  If the board doesn’t act but you have voting members, you could also go to them with your concerns.  The more of you who join in the reporting, the more likely the organization is to take it seriously.

If you comply with the policy, you should be protected from retaliation, but I wouldn’t guarantee it.  Most organizations retain the right to modify their policies whenever they want to, and some just disregard the policy when they don’t want to follow it.

If following the policy, or reporting to the board if there is no policy, fails to get results, you can always report the theft to law enforcement personnel.  Law enforcement is not likely to take action because of verbal abuse or random threats, but theft, if sufficiently large or pervasive, might get their attention. 

Most whistleblowers who go outside the organization are people who got no response to blowing the whistle internally.  Organizations who understand this simple fact are more likely to treat employee complaints with respect and to take remedial action where warranted.  You can only hope that someone in your governance structure understands that it is better to deal with an issue internally than to wait until the attorney general or local prosecutor shows up.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

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I once reported an incident to the Board of a 501c3 I was working at. It involved payment of organization funds to friend of CEO despite the fact that the friend did not fulfill the terms of contractual relationship. As amount relatively small ($5 K), I asked for the CEO to receive a letter of reprimand at minimum so that future conduct was precluded. When nothing happened, I called Board Chair personally also with no result, I resigned my position as CFO the following week.

I would go to the attorney general.

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