Legally, an organization’s bylaws govern the internal mechanics of democratic decision making in organizations. This includes the following:
Boards legally must maintain three core officers:
Board members are legally and financially liable for the organization and can be sued for the activities of the organization. Because of this, officers must abide by the following duties:
Duty of Care – Board members must give the same care and concern to board responsibilities as “any prudent and ordinary person” would. This means board members should be actively participating in board meetings and on committees. It also means that they should be actively working with other board directors to advance the organization’s mission and goals.
Duty of Loyalty & Duty to Recuse – Board members must place the interests of the organization ahead of their own interests. It also means publicly disclosing any conflicts of interests and not using board service as a means for personal or commercial gain by recusing themselves from decisions that may benefit them, which is also known as the duty to recuse.
Duty of Obedience – Board members agree to abide by all applicable criminal and civil laws and other regulations, and to ensure that the organization doesn’t engage in illegal or unauthorized activities.
Duty of Transparency – More recently courts and other legal arbiters have increasingly cited what amounts to the “duty of transparency” of boards of Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs). This means that their activities and decisions, and the finances of the organization, should be readily available. This is a legal requirement in most jurisdictions.
In addition, and because of these duties, board members of nonprofits are also legally required to:
During our development Harm Reduction Hacks have collected together a large number of resources from around the web you can find these in our resource folder in Google Docs. We are also always looking for more so help us by suggesting any resources we may have missed.
We do not claim that this is an exhaustive set of strategies, shortcuts, or tips for running an SSP. What we do suggest is that Harm Reduction Hacks offers down-to-earth, practical information for being a better leader, starting and running an SSP, and providing syringe access services. We feel we can say this with confidence because the Hacks are based on interviews with, and the experiences of, literally generations of people who have been doing harm reduction work.
Please note that nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney local to your area to ensure your program is in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations that apply to your situation.