Don’t Fall for the Volunteer Board vs Staff Myth

Recently, I trained new volunteer board members for one of my clients. During our time together, I once again found that one very talented new board member had succumbed to a common myth. This person is a gifted strategic planner and wanted very much to get involved in developing 3-5 year operational plans for this particular nonprofit organization.

Unfortunately, he has just become a member of the board of directors and as such has committed to participating in setting the direction for the organization, which means leaving operational planning to the executive director and their team. It is unfortunate because he fell prey to the common myth that volunteers are on the board and those that are paid are on the staff. It is a myth because there are volunteer opportunities both in the board’s role of directing, protecting, and enabling, as well as in the staff’s role of leading, managing, and accomplishing. We must do a better job of understanding these aligned roles and proactively informing potential volunteer board and staff members of opportunities throughout the organization.

Many of our clients at Aligned Influence® have mastered this process. They have been able to expand significant volunteer opportunities in their organizations beyond board membership and in doing so engaged more of the community in their work. Engaged community members become advocates for their nonprofit’s work. More volunteer board and staff members means more community advocates. If you’re ready to increase community engagement and effectiveness, learn more at

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