Board Meeting Attendance Reimbursement Policies

The cost of attending board meetings should not create undue financial burden for any board member. Regional and national boards sometimes have a special challenge in this regard. At the same time, transferring the financial burden to your organization is not necessarily the best or easiest solution. These expenses add up very quickly, and they must be covered by your organization’s budget.

Here are possible options to consider when your board decides to adopt a meeting attendance reimbursement policy.


Do not reimburse. Your board members accept the personal responsibility to absorb all the costs associated with attending board meetings. If your board chooses this option, the policy must be communicated to prospective board members. Another suggestion: Ask board members to turn these expenses into tax-deductible contributions to your organization to count against meeting expenses. However, have a paper trail for the separate financial transactions.

Reimburse upon request. Allow individual board members to determine whether they require reimbursement or are willing and able to pay all or part of their expenses. This option accommodates those members for whom service would otherwise be impossible.

Reimburse expenses. Set acceptable caps and standards to control the overall cost. Your board must budget for these expenses.

If your board decides to reimburse some expenses, it should explain the details in a separate policy.

  • Stipulate a ceiling per board member per meeting, determine a manageable per diem, or clarify the fine points of what is an acceptable expense and what is not. These points may cover mileage reimbursement rates, a list of acceptable hotels or dollar limits for hotel stays, or whether board members are expected to fly coach.
  • Differentiate between travel to committee meetings and board meetings. Some local boards with members in the lowest income bracket reimburse lost wages for the time spent in a board meeting or contribute to a babysitter fee for single parents of small children.
  • Paying spouses’ expenses should be justified judiciously; under most cases, it is not appropriate. This reimbursement may turn into a compensation issue that must be reported in the Form 990.

 

101 Resource | Last updated: May 23, 2016


Resources: Meeting, and Exceeding Expectations: A Guide to Successful Nonprofit Board MeetingsThe Nonprofit Policy Sampler