- Check your rules and any legislation that applies to your charity to understand your legal duty about handling or avoiding conflicts of interest.
- Have a written conflict of interest policy and a register of interests for staff and the members of your board. Make sure that staff and board members thoroughly understand the policy. Promote a culture of disclosure and ask people to disclose any conflicts of interest when they join your charity and keep it as a regular agenda item so that the register is kept up-to-date.
- In every board meeting, ask if there are any conflicts to declare. Take careful minutes – record any conflicts that are disclosed, who is present for discussion and record who did not vote on which items.
- When making any decisions ask yourself: 'Would an independent observer think I was acting in the best interests of my charity or in my own interest?' If there is any doubt, it is best to declare a conflict of interest.
- Before participating in a decision on any issue where you may have a conflict of interest, declare your interest first. This may not automatically remove you from the decision-making process, but will allow others to determine if your involvement is appropriate.
What not to do
- Don’t be embarrassed to declare a conflict of interest! Most members of a board will encounter a conflict of interest (or several) at some point and you should feel confident to declare and manage it responsibly.
- Don’t vote on matters where you have a conflict of interest and, ideally (or if required), leave the room for the discussion.
- Conflicts of interest can come and go and sometimes a serious one can arise that means you may have to resign your position. For example, if you accepted a role with the funding body for your charity it may be necessary for you to resign. Don’t continue on in a role if your conflict of interest is regularly going to make it difficult for you to make a contribution.