Most other teams or organizations are run by a person or a partnership. The people in charge have both the responsibility for the welfare of the organization and the authority to make decisions for it.
But nonprofits are weird organizations. The head of a nonprofit doesn’t have all the authority for the nonprofit. The board does. So there are a lot of complexities that come with a rotating cast of board members and their expectations.
That’s why I firmly believe that if you work for a nonprofit, you should be on the board of a nonprofit. Being a board member will help you understand your own board members.
- Being on another nonprofit’s board will help you see what “reports” aren’t helpful.
- Being on another nonprofit’s board will help you see why seemingly arbitrary decisions are made by your nonprofit’s board.
- And being a nonprofit employee on another nonprofit’s board will allow you to possibly translate what staff of the nonprofit are saying to the board you sit on.
Being a nonprofit board member isn’t easy. But it is important. And your experience can be incredibly helpful to a cause your wholeheartedly support.
If you work in a nonprofit and are on another nonprofit’s board, what have you learned from the experience? Let us know in the comments!
You make a lot of good points here, but there’s one thing that stops me from joining a non-profit board at the same time I am serving as ED and, by extension, chief fundraiser of my organization. Non-profit board members have a responsibility to bring financial resources to the organization. How can I fulfil that part of a board member’s role and fundraise for “day job”? I think there are potential conflict of interest here.
Great question. And it shows a good knowledge of how a board should be.
One way is to look for a board that doesn’t have a fundraising requirement. That’s what I’ve done.
Another is to consider a professional association board or association chapter board.