Monday, November 1, 2010

Reaching the Limit

Earlier this month I attended my last meeting as a board member of Hunger Solutions Minnesota. Along with two other board members, I was recognized for serving two three-year terms for this nonprofit agency. I appreciated the opportunity to contribute to the governance of Hunger Solutions, and the years of monthly -- later changed to bi-monthly meetings -- passed quickly. Here I was experiencing personally the concept of board term limits as we had approved years earlier in Hunger Solution's by-laws.

Should nonprofit boards have term limits? This is a question that often gets asked in board trainings and board involvement discussions. David Styers, Senior Governance Consultant with BoardSource addressed the topic as part of a recent BoardSource Webinar , "Introduction to Board Service." Styers says that every board needs to decide if term limits are important to outline in their bylaws. "If you have term limits," he says, "make sure you enforce them."

Two-thirds of boards have term limits of some sort. The most common model, according to Styers, is the model we adopted at Hunger Solutions with two three-year terms; six-year limit. Many organizations also allow that board members can be considered for service again after being off the board for one year.

Did you know also that Minnesota Statutes outlines that if a nonprofit organization's articles or bylaws do not provide for a fixed term, then the term is one year. Additionally, the statute provides that a director's term may not exceed 10 years.

Lois Schmidt, NRS, Willmar

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