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#MemberMonday: The Three Duties of Ethics

By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Member Services|

Board ethics is an important topic that few people actually understand. Many believe it to be merely a sense of morality or doing what’s right. And while that certainly plays a huge role, ethics encompasses more than that, including legal requirements that mandate how a board must act. 

Within ethics, there is a set of duties that are used to determine whether a board member has acted properly. These typically have legal definitions at the state level and are known as the duties of care, of loyalty and of obedience.

  1. The Duty of Care says that an individual has the duty to show reasonable care when making decisions as a steward of the organization. It is a level of competence that is expected of a board member, explains BoardSource, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting nonprofit boards. 
  2. The Duty of Loyalty embodies our standard of faithfulness. When we accept a position on the board, we give an allegiance to making sound decisions for and on behalf of our club. This means that our actions and knowledge of confidential information cannot be used for personal gain. We must always act in the best interest of the organization.
  3. The Duty of Obedience requires us to be faithful to our organization’s mission. We must act in a way that is consistent with our club’s central goals. This means maintaining trust in the use of donated funds, obeying laws and following the organization’s internal rules and regulations.

You can learn more about the Do’s and Don’ts of Board Ethics in our video training library and in the Member Center at