Serving on a board of directors for an organization that matches your interests can be a truly rewarding experience. Professionally, board membership increases your and your employer's visibility as partners in the community and allows you to collaborate with talented professionals toward a shared goal. It also provides invaluable opportunities to expand your business acumen in terms of strategic planning, fundraising, and public relations. Personally, membership allows you to lead or participate in projects that directly affect your community and to contribute to a cause that is important to you.
Many boards recognize they are lacking younger members who can enhance dialogue and bring a different perspective. Younger board members may also draw additional interest and community participation. For example, I serve on the board of a symphony that recently partnered with our local Young Professionals Network on a major fundraising event, resulting in an influx of new patrons who may not have otherwise attended. Another board on which I serve has made it a point to utilize various social media platforms and regularly livestreams their events to reach more of their potential attendees.
A board also may benefit from having a lawyer member, as lawyers are creative problem solvers and are often well versed in networking. However, boards may not actively recruit younger members, and it will be up to you to facilitate an introduction. Here are some steps you can take to begin serving on a nonprofit board of directors:
Evaluate and Enhance Your Skill Set. Do you have significant ties to the local community, have a knack for fundraising or accounting, or have some talent that would make you valuable to a board? If you are lacking in certain skills necessary for membership on a board that you would like to join, seek volunteer opportunities that would allow you to develop experience in these areas.
Identify Organizations That Match Your Interests. If you do not have an organization in mind, research the responsibilities of members of different boards and determine which of these groups best fit your skills and your personal and professional goals. Based on your skills and interests, determine on which board(s) you would like to direct your energy. Careful evaluation allows you to refine your pitch for your introduction and/or interview.
Utilize Your Network. You are most likely to be appointed to a board because of your connections. Evaluate your network and identify those individuals who enjoy networking and can facilitate introductions. Rely on your connections who may be part of the board or who are closely connected to board members.
I hope that you take a chance, follow your passions, and become involved in your community.