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As a member of the board of directors for a non-profit organization, you may be one of the organization’s most valuable assets. You volunteer your time and expertise, provide insights, guidance and direction. But you also assume a certain amount of liability for your actions as well as those of the non-profit itself. In fact nearly 60% of non-profits say they experienced Directors & Officers Insurance claims in the last five years.1 So, how do you protect yourself and still give back to a worthy cause?

1. Understand what you’re responsible for.
You’ll want to understand the details of how your non-profit operates, as well as what you’ll be responsible for specifically. Make sure you know the laws – state and federal – and ensure that the non-profit is following them completely.

2. Get to know the staff and the location(s).
Many lawsuits come from within – employees or volunteers who don’t feel like they were treated fairly or were hurt in some way in connection with their jobs. As a member of the board, you can be held liable for not properly screening employees, not having sufficient employee guidelines or protections in place, or for not ensuring that the facilities are properly maintained. Make sure your organization has safety training and gear, if necessary, to protect the staff.

A director at a non-profit getting to know one of his staff members

3. Keep organized records.

If your non-profit comes under public scrutiny, you’ll want to make sure your recordkeeping and finances are clear, up-to-date and above board. That way, you’ll be able to easily clear up any discrepancies or misunderstandings.


4. Determine your insurance needs.
If you have employees and volunteers, your non-profit probably needs Worker’s Compensation insurance. But, they may have other insurance needs as well, to help protect you and others from risks – including Errors and Omissions, General Liability and Property insurance. As a member of the board of directors, you may want to consider Directors & Officers liability insurance, which will specifically protect you and your finances if the non-profit is sued and their insurance doesn’t cover the costs..


Personal excess insuance can help protect you, your family, and your hard-earned assets in other areas as well, such as:

  • Protection in the courtroom
  • Additional protection for you and covered passengers if you are involved with an uninsured or underinsured motorist
  • Protection for any property damage and bodily injurty if you are liable for someone getting injured on your property


"Directors & Officers Liability Survey: 2015 Summary of Results," JLT