Can employees serve on nonprofit boards?
Answered by: Sharon Thomas

Yes, and No.

Yes, it is legal for an employee to serve on the board or an organization at which employed.

However, it is not generally considered a best practice for nonprofit organizations.

SCANPO’s Guiding Principle on Governance, Core Element 3 states “The Board appoints and empowers a chief executive officer, through whom it directs the organization, its achievements and conduct." and suggests as a Best Practice that the board “Give clear and consistent direction to the chief executive officer, who works for the board as a whole, not for the board chairman or the executive committee."

It's tough to delineate roles when you have one or more people having both roles. I will, however, note that in all-volunteer organizations, the Board is typically the unpaid staff of the organization. There, when I train those groups, I strongly emphasize that Board members have to be very clear about when they are acting as Board and when as staff.