Common Nonprofit Law and Governance Hazards to Avoid

Introduction: Avoiding Common Law and Governance Hazards While Keeping Your Organization On Par

Golf is a mission-focused sport. But while the mission may be easily defined, the actual feat is anything but easy. The same can be said about governing a nonprofit organization. Your organization’s mission may be easy to define (though even that can be a challenge golf ball in sandtrapsometimes), but staying on course and advancing the organization toward its intended purpose can be as exasperating as a round of mid-afternoon golf in the scorching heat of an Arizona summer.

Among the many aspects of golf that make the game so challenging are the hazards—features of the course such as waterways and sand traps that present a particular challenge or difficulty. Special rules apply any time the ball lands in a hazard. These rules instruct the player on what is permitted and prohibited and what penalties may apply.

Nonprofit governance has its own hazards: features that present particular challenges or difficulties. An organization’s directors and officers are expected to understand the rules that give rise to and apply to these hazards. Some hazards present the risk of penalties. As in golf, landing in these hazards and running afoul of the rules can deter the organization from moving toward its ultimate mission.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be offering some practical insights on how your board can advance the organization’s mission while steering clear of common nonprofit law and governance hazards.

Want to learn more now? There are numerous resources available that can help your board implement good governance practices and increase your effectiveness. Here are two that you might find helpful:

Is your board ready to go beyond good governance to implement TransFORMational Governance?

Are you overloaded with information, ideas, and advice, but still not clear on what works best for YOUR organization? We can help with that!


  • What ONE resource have you found most helpful for your board?
  • What ONE practice has your board implemented that has had the biggest impact on your organization’s mission?