Nonprofit organizations are especially vulnerable to conflict situations. This is due in part to the use of volunteers seeking to help the organization in its business transactions. While the motives of virtually all volunteers are clearly above reproach, a few may offer their services having hidden profit motives. Conflicts can exist involving vendors, employees, and fund raisers, and care must be taken. For example, if the board of a nonprofit is considering contracting a firm for some assignment, and one firm being considered has, as a co-owner, a close relative of one of board's members, then that board member should not vote or discuss on which firm is to be selected.
What does this all mean? Well, for one thing, our town's current approach is a sound one, for to prohibit those conflicts that do not involve financial gain would be unrealistic. The town is far too small, and many of our officials are on too many different boards and committees. However, disclosure should be a requirement regardless of the type of conflict. Hidden agendas are just that, hidden; everything should be on the table and up front. If nothing else, it enriches the discussion and opens new avenues of argument.