Guide for Members of Public Boards and Commissions: Chapter 3

Uphold fiduciary principles and act in the best interests of the public organization.

Table of Contents

Use Fiduciary Principles

A fiduciary is "someone who is required to act for the benefit of another person on all matters within the scope of their relationship; one who owes to another the duties of good faith, loyalty, due care, and disclosure." Black's Law Dictionary 10th ed. (2014).

In some instances, the law may consider you a fiduciary, someone who owes a particular duty of care, known as a fiduciary duty, to an entity or individual – in this case, a public organization. A fiduciary duty requires an individual to act with good faith, loyalty and due care. A fiduciary must act in the best interests of the public organization.

Using fiduciary principles as the framework for your board will result in an active, well-informed board that acts in the public organization's best interests and assists the organization in achieving its mission.

Even if you are not a fiduciary under the law, fiduciary principles should guide the decisions that you and your board make. Adhering to fiduciary principles will help the board recognize that it is a steward of the public funds entrusted to the organization, and that the board plays a vital role in ensuring the public organization fulfills its mission. As part of upholding fiduciary principles, the board should always act independently, with care and in the best interests of the organization.

Board members who adhere to the fiduciary principles will:

  • Be active participants in board matters.
  • Stay informed.
  • Act in the best interests of the organization.

Fiduciary principles remind the board that it must act on behalf of the organization, not its executive. They will lead the board to actively oversee the executive and to expect accountability from the executive, which will help the public organization operate effectively, transparently and in accordance with its mission.

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Date published: February 1, 2022

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