How to Remove a Board Member (+ Sample Letter)

  • By: Josh Palmer
  • October 3, 2023
How to Remove a Board Member
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Effective board governance is vital for the success of any organization, whether a nonprofit, a corporation, or a community group. However, there may come a time when the removal of a board member becomes necessary. This decision should not be taken lightly and requires careful consideration and adherence to the organization’s bylaws and regulations.

With the help of board meeting management software, the board of directors can draft a board resolution to demonstrate they made the decision according to the organization’s rules and statutes. The resolution outlines the reasons for removal, the process followed, and relevant evidence or documentation.

How to Remove a Board Member

Maintaining a cohesive and effective board of directors or trustees is paramount. However, sometimes the harmony of a board is disrupted, to the point the corporate director and rest of the board need to remove a member. 

Removing a board member requires the board to reach a vote of no confidence and involves a thorough approach to ensure fairness and adherence to the organization’s bylaws. The several circumstances that may warrant such action include:

  • Conflict of interest: When a board member’s interests conflict with the organization’s best interests, it can undermine the board’s integrity.
  • Breach of fiduciary duty: Board members must act in the organization’s best interests. If a member fails in this duty, removal from their board seat may be necessary.
  • Non-participation: Board members should actively participate in board meetings and contribute to the organization’s mission. Persistent non-participation can hinder progress.
  • Violation of bylaws or policies: If a corporate board member consistently violates the organization’s bylaws or policies, the board may discontinue their participation.
  • Illegal activities: Engaging in illegal or unethical behavior can tarnish the organization’s reputation and necessitate removal.
  • Term limits: Some organizations impose limits on board membership to ensure fresh perspectives and opportunities for others to serve.

The process for removing a board member varies depending on the organization’s unique bylaws and applicable laws. A comprehensive understanding of the specific requirements, as outlined in the organization’s bylaws, and any legal obligations is essential. 

This understanding includes preparing and distributing a well-organized board pack containing relevant documents such as the organization’s bylaws, the reasons for removal, and any evidence collected. Here are the steps involved in a board member’s removal process.

1. Review the Bylaws and Legal Requirements

Bylaws are the constitution of an organization, establishing the rules and regulations that govern its internal affairs. Within the bylaws, you will find detailed provisions that pertain to board member appointments, roles, responsibilities, and the procedures for their removal.

In addition to the organization’s bylaws, it’s crucial to consider legal requirements concerning board member removal. Acts governing nonprofit organizations, corporations, or other entities may impose certain obligations and restrictions.

2. Document Reasons for Removal

Accumulate tangible evidence substantiating the allegations or concerns regarding the board member’s actions or behaviors. It can include source documents like financial records, meeting minutes, emails, or witness statements.

A separate body may exist in organizations with a complex governance structure, known as the board of supervisors. They serve an oversight function, monitoring the actions of the board of directors or trustees. Effective documentation demonstrates the decision to remove is grounded in facts and due process, reducing the risk of disputes or legal repercussions.

3. Notify the Board Member

After carefully documenting the reasons for considering the removal of a board member, the next step in the process is notifying the board member in question. This notification is a formal acknowledgment of the concerns and an indication of the organization’s intent to proceed with their removal. 

This step must be executed respectfully and formally through written communication. In addition, where applicable, the corporate governance committee may be involved to add an extra layer of oversight to ensure the process remains fair and just.

4. Hold a Board Meeting

This meeting is a forum for thoroughly discussing the concerns and the proposed removal. It’s essential to conduct this meeting with the utmost professionalism and transparency. Ensuring all board members have a comprehensive board pack containing relevant documents is vital to facilitate informed decision-making.

Allow for an open discussion where board members can express their views, ask questions, and seek clarification. Encourage a constructive dialogue that explores all perspectives.

5. Vote on the Removal

Once the board meeting has been convened and a comprehensive discussion of the concerns and proposed removal has occurred, the next crucial step is to formally vote on removing the board member in question.

This vote is the peak of the deliberation process and must follow the organization’s bylaws and applicable legal requirements. Regardless of the outcome, maintain a respectful and professional atmosphere during and after the vote.

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Sample Letter to Remove a Board Member


I am writing to formally request the removal of [BOARD MEMBER NAME] from our organization’s board of directors. I understand this is a significant decision, and I want to explain my request.


I believe that [BOARD MEMBER NAME]’s continued presence on the board is detrimental to the organization for the following reasons.

  1. [REASON #1]
  2. [REASON #2]
  3. [REASON #3]

Our organization needs to maintain high integrity, professionalism, and dedication to our mission. The actions and behaviors exhibited by [BOARD MEMBER NAME] have raised concerns among other board members, staff, and stakeholders, which may ultimately harm our organization’s reputation and effectiveness.

I kindly request that the board of directors initiates the necessary procedures to address this matter promptly. Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to a resolution allowing our organization to continue its valuable work without further disruption.

Kind regards,


Board Effectiveness Made Complete With OnBoard

OnBoard, a leading board meeting management software, streamlines and enhances the board governance process. It offers a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for board members to access and navigate meeting materials, documents, and information. It ensures all board members are well-prepared for discussions, including those related to board member removal.

In addition, OnBoard allows for electronic signatures, making it convenient to collect signatures and approvals, such as those required for board resolutions. It also seamlessly integrates with other tools and systems, enhancing efficiency and connectivity within the organization.

OnBoard can facilitate and enhance your meetings with the board meeting minutes template. With OnBoard, you can take your organization’s governance to the next level, ensuring the removal of a board member or other governance process is managed efficiently and effectively.

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About The Author

Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.