I believe that all fundraisers must serve on a board. I believe that all executive directors must serve on a board. And that means you! No matter how busy you are.
How can a professional expect to work well with board members if that professional doesn’t know what it feels like to be a board member? How can you as a fundraiser effectively engage and manage board members as they help with fund development activities? How can an executive director complain about a weak board? How can I as a consultant give advice to boards about fund development or governance or strategic planning?
You know the old saying:
You have to walk in someone else’s shoes to know what their experience feels like. I was a better fundraiser and executive director because I served as a board member. I’m a better consultant because I serve as a board member (and have served as an executive director and a development officer).
When you serve on a board, you can ask yourself: How effective is the executive director at getting me to be an effective board member? How effective is the executive director at enabling this board to do the proper thing? How effective is this fundraiser at helping me overcome my discomfort in fund development? How effectively does this fundraiser engage the board in strategy, not just tactics.
When you serve on a board, you can reflect on your own performance as an executive director and a fundraiser. You identify the things you dislike and like about how the staff treats you and enables you as a board member. Then you can transfer that knowledge to your own work as a staff person.
Get on a board now! Always serve on a board when you work professionally in the nonprofit / NGO sector.