Dual Roles: Board President and Paid Executive Part 2

Sections of this topic

    (Guest post from Hank Lewis.)

    An email said:

    My organization is 2nd in my life only to my family. I also feel responsible for the integrity of the organization and for protecting it from changes that would endanger that integrity. This organization works to create programs that bridge educational gaps between and about indigenous cultures. A lot of what we do is very sensitive and, if mismanaged, could do more harm than good.

    The idea of hiring the wrong person for the job of ED when the time comes is terrifying to me. However, the idea of giving up my position on the Board is even MORE terrifying. Having been involved with other organizations that … became oligarchies full of power-struggles and politics [and having] watched those organizations sacrifice the quality and purpose of their programs because the politics became more important or because someone “found a shortcut, cheaper method, etc.,” that placed “efficiency” over quality.


    You sound like any mama protecting its cub, and we would expect no less of someone who cared enough to begin the process/organization in the first place.

    The answer to your specific question, right now — where you can maintain the direction and focus of your organization, and still derive compensation from the process — is to help your board become the “mature” group that will assume the governance role and help ensure funding, while you resign your board seat and become the ED (only).


    I agree that someone being the top of the Board AND a paid staff member could create a conflict of interest.


    Not “could.” It is a conflict !!

    If you can create a board that will do what’s needed, and continue to support your vision, you can give up your board role and become a paid employee.

    It sounds like you’d benefit from conversation with a consultant who specializes in helping NPOs with needs like yours – look around, wherever you’re located, there are likely to be folks with the expertise you need.


    I can see from experience why some people would feel strongly about protecting “their” organization and/or what it was doing. I can … see, from experience with a young organization, how it can require a full-time commitment from key volunteers who may or may not afford to give it full time.


    It is extremely unusual to find “full-time volunteers” especially those whose mindsets duplicate yours. Be careful that, with your passion and protectiveness, you don’t wind up creating the kind of “oligarchy” you despise.


    I’d be pleased to address your comments in a future posting.

    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating or expanding your fundraising program? Contact me at Hank@Major-Capital-Giving.com With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, I’ll be pleased to answer your questions.

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