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You watching: Can a nonprofit board member be an employee

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Real responses to real-life questions

Jack Nokes, an independent nonprofit consultant in Austin, Texas, provides his response to the DoubleTake — a column that supplies opinions about the peskier aspects of functioning in the nonprofit sector. The opinions available right here are based upon the author"s personal nonprofit endure and also may not reflect the opinions of, Inc. These opinions should not be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for professional legal consultation. readers are invited to submit different responses, which might be publiburned here also.

Can I Be Both a Nonprofit Employee and also a Board Member?

The method this case unravelled wasn’t my plan. I have a kid with Asperger’s, and also together with one more mother, began a nonprofit that provides a unique design of peer and also parent support teams challenged by this syndrome. We had both struggresulted in uncover assist and felt passionate around our nonprofit"s mission.

I was a founding board member, and in those beforehand days, I likewise taken on all the fundelevating. To my surpincrease, I discovered that I’m exceptionally good at fundelevating, specifically once it pertains to building relationships through donors. Today, I raise about 90 percent of all the funds we must run our programs.

In the past year, it was chose the nonprofit necessary a appropriate executive director. We were growing and my co-founder moved to another state. I was not on the board"s search committee and also I don’t much prefer their choice (they interviewed ONE applicant and she seems inskilled to me.) Nonethemuch less, I wanted to corun, so I remained on the board as a non-voting member and took a formal, part-time position as the only funds advancement employee.

To jump to the allude, this plan doesn’t appear to be functioning. The new executive director appears to resent my direct line of communication via board members and also she is constantly microregulating my fundraising advancement plans.

I admit I am feeling angry and unappreciated. I want to proceed fundraising for the company I love, yet does my existence on the board make that too impractical? I was below from day one and my fundincreasing keeps this area alive. I am still passionate about our cause, however I feel hemmed in and also stressed out.

Any tips on exactly how I have the right to finest take care of this situation?

Jack states ...

The brief answer to your question of whether one can be an employee and a board member of a nonprofit company is “yes." While not the norm, it is a prevalent exercise for a CEO or executive director to also be a member of the board, (at least in the US) occasionally as a voting member and periodically ex officio without vote.

However, that short answer does not give a solution to your tough case. I read this as a variation of "founder’s syndrome", which is what happens as soon as an organization’s founder battles with a transition in responsibilities and/or executive powers.

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Like most founders, you obtained associated to address a societal require, one you feel passionate around. In your situation, the passion stems from your personal experience via your son, and also that provides your circumstance also more fraught. In enhancement, your "ownership" of the organization is even higher because you proceed to drive practically all of the money breakthrough (and the relationships you have cultivated.) It’s no wonder that you have actually these feelings of being angry, under-appreciated, hemmed in and stressed out.

The various other side to this is that the board (including you) has actually put the executive director in a “no win” case. Even if she is competent, dedicated and also a difficult worker, she cannot have actually your level of endure and passion for the organization’s mission. On paper she’s been given the bottom-line duty for the organization’s success, and yet you are still in charge of the essential money advance function. I would certainly be surprised if she’s not feeling intimidated and also second-guessed by you, and also resentful toward the board for placing her in this case.

So what to do? First I indicate that you check out the source of your feelings. It strikes me as odd that the board would certainly not put the founder on the search committee for the organization’s first executive director. Are you angry via the board for excluding you and pursuing a procedure you didn’t like? Perhaps you regret not being more assertive and also asking to be affiliated in the search. You might also regret not applying for the project. Is turning over the day-to-day harder than you had imagined? Does any type of of this punch emotional butloads concerned your child’s Asperger’s? Is actual dislike or disrespect for the executive director what’s bothering you? You can likewise ask yourself whether you would have bumped up versus these same feelings regardless of whom the board hired as executive director.

Once you have examined and also clarified wright here your frustration is coming from, it might make you feel more in regulate to deal with your feelings head on. Find a good time and location — probably outside the office — to be upfront through your executive director to talk about what you"re feeling around this arrangement. Are tright here methods to connect better? Is her micromanaging your work her way of saying that she requirements to "learn the ropes" from you? Can your roles regarding fund development be clarified or reconfigured? And what about her issue with your communications through board members? Are tright here methods to reassure her by being more transparent as soon as you resolve the board? Maybe you can discover a means to be the director’s advocate as a board member.

If you and the executive director cannot concerned a better expertise concerning your setup, then it might be time to involve the board. After all, the board had a hand also in obtaining both of you into this mess, so possibly they have the right to aid you out of it. A wise member or group of members might have the ability to mediate or discover a brand-new setup even more suitable to both you and the executive director. I would certainly hope that it doesn’t obtain down to a "one of us has to go" standoff, which could result in ugliness all around. The board should be motivated to make this work; they plainly worth your passion and also experience. Plus, the last thing they want to do is go through one more search.

You have actually my admiration for caring so much around a crucial mission, and also I am sorry things have actually obtained off track for you. I know you are crucial to the work your organization does, and I hope you deserve to rotate things around in a means that renders you happy and also gratified proceeding your good work.