Did you know that you don’t have to be interested or involved in a specific cause to serve on a nonprofit board of directors? The fact is that there are lots of nonprofits right in your community that have vacancies on their boards of directors. A great deal of the time, they don’t even require prior experience.
Nonprofit board positions have the benefits of most charitable organizations, and they can also provide personal and professional benefits for those who elect to serve. Nonprofit board service is an especially good opportunity for young adults.
It’s a good idea to do your homework before accepting a position on a board of directors so that you know what the board’s expectations are and you can fulfill your duties responsibly.
Benefit of Service to Your Community
Spend some time thinking about the needs of your community. Many things will probably come to mind. Choosing to serve on a nonprofit board of directors enables you to become an integral part of solving problems in your community. As a nonprofit board director, you get the opportunity to be a representative of the diversity and social culture of your community. It’s also an opportunity to serve in a leadership position in an organization that serves others.
Professional Benefits of Being a Nonprofit Board Director
It’s a known fact that employers like to see resumes that list volunteerism or leadership experience, but have you ever wondered why? Employers know how much their employees gain by volunteering for organizations they care about. When their employees gain knowledge and experience, the company benefits from those experiences as well.
Serving on a nonprofit board usually increases your access to professional networks, which may even be outside your circle of influence at your regular employment. People within those networks may have an impact on you in a variety of ways. They may become customers for your paid job, they may benefit your nonprofit in ways you didn’t expect and they may even serve as mentors.
Serving on a nonprofit board of directors will expand your skill set. Just by being involved, you’re sure to learn more about marketing, governance, finance, branding, recruiting volunteers, interacting with community officials and community members, and much more.
Employers will see and appreciate that you are willing to go the extra mile to make a personal investment in your community and in yourself without expecting to be paid.
Personal Benefits of Being a Nonprofit Board Director
Learning how to help shape a nonprofit organization’s mission and vision is a huge source of pride and satisfaction. It’s an opportunity to learn more about an important cause, the people it affects, and the businesses and people in your community who support it.
Nonprofit board service also offers you the opportunity to form deeper connections with your community as you offer service as a dedicated leader. Nonprofit board directors also often get opportunities to practice public speaking at fundraisers and community events, which can also be a strong asset in your personal and professional life.
Everyone has a unique circle of friends and center of influence. Nonprofit board director service gives you the opportunity to use your personal connections to help bring your community together for a distinct purpose. Those connections may serve you in various ways at other points in your life because of the deep and lasting relationships that you develop during the process.
Your service as a nonprofit board director comes with many responsibilities that will teach you more about how organizations run. Learning about governance practices will help you to understand more about corporate finance and what drives its success, which may help you make better decisions about your personal finance portfolio.
Hometowns often become an important part of family history. Making a major contribution to a nonprofit organization helps you to leave a lasting legacy of service to your community, in which future family members will be sure to take pride.
Serving on a Nonprofit Board Is a Great Opportunity for Young Professionals
Are you aware that nonprofit boards are often on the lookout for young professionals to serve as board directors? According to the 2007 BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index, less than 2% of nonprofit board directors are under 30 years old.
Nonprofit boards are looking for young, fresh perspectives to round out their board composition. Young adults are often more familiar with technology, which is a valuable asset for today’s boards.
Young people who choose to serve on nonprofit boards will surely learn more about board duties like strategic planning and how to oversee management without overstepping roles.
Perhaps most importantly, young adults will get the chance to have older mentors with more knowledge and experience than they have.
What You Need to Know Before Accepting a Position as a Nonprofit Board Director
While board service offers many benefits, it also comes with many duties and responsibilities. Asking the right questions before accepting a position on the board can help you be sure it’s the right position at the right time in your life.
Make sure that you learn how often board meetings are held and whether you will need to conduct board business between meetings. You’ll also want to know the length of your expected term of service.
Nonprofit board service is almost always on a volunteer basis, but the organization may offer reimbursement for board-related expenses.
Since fundraising is a major part of nonprofit organizations, board directors are almost always expected to participate in fundraising in some fashion. They will also be expected to demonstrate their commitment to the organization with a personal donation, although it doesn’t have to be a large sum of money.
Be aware that nonprofit boards sometimes look for board directors because there are existing problems in an organization. Make it a point to have a frank discussion with an existing board member whom you trust about any current or past problems with the organization or other board members. You’ll also want to know if the organization is financially healthy and whether there are any pending lawsuits against the organization.
Finally, you should be aware that you have some legal protection as a volunteer board director, but that isn’t always enough. Before serving on any board of directors, you’ll want to be sure that they have a directors and officers’ insurance policy in force to protect you from any unforeseen legal action.
Nonprofit organizations fill the gaps that government agencies can’t provide, so they provide valuable services to the community. Your service on a nonprofit board will benefit your community in many ways. You have much to gain as well, making nonprofit board service a win-win proposition.