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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default How to Get More Compensation From the Board

    My question involves business law in the state of: New York.

    I am currently the Executive Director of a Film Festival. *We are a registered Not-For-Profit Corporation in New York State. *We have been in business since October, 2010. *When I filed the paperwork, I listed myself and 2 gentlemen as the initial Board members. *The 2 gentlemen were and are domestic partners (I thought they were just roommates). *Essentially, one couple has the majority vote on anything and everything. *It was agreed that I would be the Executive Director. We do not currently have by-laws.

    We have had 2 successful film festivals and are working on our third this year. *We have been breaking even, which is difficult to do as a film festival, when our only source of revenue has been filmmaker entry fees, ticket sales, advertising sales and event payments for parties held jointly by the festival and the filmmaker's production companies.

    I have done the vast majority of the work and have only been paid $2,400 over the last 3 years. Since the board decides my salary, I was lucky to get even that much out of them. I want to draw a salary again this year, but the other 2 board members would rather pay me nothing and make the festival a greater success this year. *Also, they would like me to resign as a board member and as the Executive Director. *In return for my resignation, they would like me to receive nothing and pay back some expenditures that they feel were personal in nature. *We have agreed that the expenditures total $700. *I can accept all of these things except receiving nothing but the $2,400 salary for the 3 years that I have put in as Executive Director.

    My longwinded question is: what is my best course of action? *I was thinking of going to small claims court and asking for the maximum amount of $5,000 for unpaid salary, since the other board members are unwilling to pay me anything. *If I calculate the hours I have worked since October, 2010 multiplied by minimum wage, I would have made around $7,400 ($2,400 paid*+ $5,000 maximum judgment given by small claims court). *I don't want to break the company, but if they want me to resign, I would like something in return for my efforts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Re: How to Get More Compensation From the Board

    I handle finances for a city funded non-profit. What you mentioned is not an unusual situation.

    The primary responsibility of our board is to make sure the "best interest" of the organization is served, NOT that someone got paid what he or she think is deserved. While the executive director of our organization is a paid executive, we do have people running activities such as ESL classes, and fund raising activities such as flea markets, annual dinners etc., not paid a salary

    In our case, the example that fits your situation was a teacher we had teaching ESL. She did not belive she was paid what she was worth, and while she didn't threaten to sue, she hinted she would take some action. Now, you have to realize that similar activites are done by UNPAID VOLUNTEERS here and elsewhere, so there really is no standard as to what an ESL director is worth vs someone running an annual festival such as yourself.

    So we decided to go and replace her with unpaid volunteers. Indeed, our flea market fundraisers are run by all unpaid retiree volunteers, by several very competent ladies who themselves were former bankers and other executives. There is no law that says we have to run our activities such as annual dinners with paid managers, or even enter into negotiations as to how much these managers are worth.

    From what I know of non-profits, no duty exists for the board to pay you more than what they agreed to, i.e. if they agreed to pay you anything at all. On the other hand, they can get into trouble for paying too much, such as paying expenses beyond what funds are raised. Indeed, the AG of my state, NY, is currently investigating many non-profits paying out 90% to over 100% of donations collected by paying people what they believed they deserve as fund raising expenses, leaving nothing for the charity.

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