Young Professionals | The Nonprofit Board Room Needs You
Have you ever interacted with a nonprofit organization and recognized opportunities where your talents could add deeper value? Have you considered how serving your community can help you grow as a person and professional?
Nonprofit boards are abundant in our communities and vary greatly in size, scope, and activity. The days of board members being composed of only senior leaders is shifting, and inclusive recruitment strategies have been a regular topic in board rooms across the country. More and more, nonprofit organizations are seeking to diversify their boards to represent the communities they serve and to position their missions for the future. Volunteering on a nonprofit board can boost your career, and, quite possibly, your well-being in the process.
Three reasons to consider joining a nonprofit board as a young professional:
1. It will stretch your skills and perspectives
Committee opportunities offer valuable portfolio-expanding experience
You will have the opportunity to learn how varied organizations and people tackle complex problems and how they come together for a shared goal
You will be challenged to rally your networks to engage and give; a good cause is great motivation to step out of your comfort zone and step into philanthropic leadership
2. It will expand your professional network
Serving with other board members offers informal mentorship and connections to call upon as you and your career mature
By serving with a variety of leaders, you gain insight on different industry perspectives, enriching what you can bring to your career and profession
You will have opportunity to engage in oversight and public-facing responsibilities building your leadership confidence
3. It will put your skills to practice for a mission and purpose
At the board table, you leave personal interests aside and leverage your knowledge, network and resources for the good of the organization
Accomplishments are shared and can offer a ripple effect for your cause, your professional growth, and your intrinsic motivation to keep serving
A well-matched board role offers the ability to honor your values, use your gifts and nurture the core of your leadership abilities creating an authentic sense of meaning
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” -John F. Kennedy
Three critical factors that will influence your experience:
1. Understanding what being a successful board member looks like
Get familiar with the job description and fully understand the commitment
2. Finding the right board for you
Find a cause you believe in and learn about the vision, stage of development and health of the organization by asking key questions
3. Awareness of pathways to a board position
You may need to work your way up to a board role through a volunteer or committee position
Nonprofit board members commit their time, talent and resources to serve a mission that is bigger than themselves, but despite good intentions, they are not immune to dysfunction. A bad experience serving on a board can leave you looking for a way to get out rather than wanting to commit to several years of valuable service.
Investing in preparation on the front end of a board commitment offers you opportunity to accept the responsibility with realistic expectations, confidence and contagious positive energy.
“Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world,” states the Greenleaf Institute for Servant Leadership.