Many nonprofit organizations in Indiana have either a duty or a policy of disclosing minutes of board meetings upon the request of certain stakeholders and allowing stakeholders to attend board meetings. Often, this duty arises under state law, such as the general Non-Profit Corporation Act, if applicable, or the specific act under which the organization is organized, such as the Rural Electric Membership Corporation Act codified at Ind. Code ch. 8-1-13 (the “REMC Act”). Transparency is generally a good thing. It fosters open dialog among stakeholders and it leads to a more accountable board. However, the organization must also protect its competitively sensitive information, as well as the privacy and dignity of its employees and stakeholders.
Therefore, the board of any nonprofit organization should understand how to effectively use Executive Session to balance the policy of transparency with need to protect sensitive information. The board must also understand how to appropriately document and maintain a record of the discussions that do occur in Executive Session.
The board should use Executive Sessions for robust discussion of matters that should not be discussed in a public forum. So what matters should not be discussed in a public forum?