Written by: LaVada English, MBA
Training & Organizational Development Manager
City of Santa Barbara Employee’s University
AABLI alumna, Class #10
Most Americans of color did not grow up in families that sat around the dining table discussing which boards we should join when we came of age. To sit on a board, you have to be very wealthy, with access to major donors, right? It ain’t, as the song goes, necessarily so.
To be sure, large corporations often are looking for major donors. They often require hefty membership fees. But there are grass root nonprofit boards that do not have these requirements. They simply need people with passion, dedication and drive. And they offer an important bonus: your commitment to boards like these can expand your professional career portfolio while enabling you to serve your community.
Here are seven powerful reasons to join a nonprofit board:
- Build relationships
Most of the time, we think of meeting new professionals as an opportunity to expand our network. But serving on a board does more than build a network. When people come together to reach a common goal, their work often creates mutual respect and professional relationships that extend years beyond the time spent serving on the board. Such board friendships add greatly to your sphere of influence.
- Broaden your skill set
One of the most valuable benefits of working with grass root organizations is also the thing that can be most challenging: they need lots of help. This dynamic does, however, create many professional leadership development opportunities. Your multiple hats can build your résumé and exposure in ways a typical day job will not. All you need is the desire to try.
- Build your fundraising muscles
Let’s face it. Nonprofits need to raise money. Board members are often required to secure a minimum number of sponsorships. Put on your sales hat and learn the skills that lead to sustainability.
- Learn to play nicely in the sandbox
Practice diplomacy and make sure your colleagues get their say (even if you think your comment said it all). The very best board members are team players.
- Appreciate that assets = liabilities
You will be able to read and understand financial statements and ask a related question or two that actually contribute to the task at hand.
- Run effective meetings with people who don’t work for you
If you take on a board leadership role, such as committee chair, you learn a very different set of skills than you would in a staff meeting. Your fellow board members are volunteers, not paid employees, and may possibly have more business experience than you.
- Stretch all your intellectual and emotional muscles
At its best, board service allows you to develop your full set of skills, passion, expertise and desire in a way that most full-time day jobs do not.
Overall, you get to tap into your intellectual and emotional muscles while you help people in need. It’s a win/win and definitely worth the investment.
This blog is not written by aabli.org or The African American Board Leadership Institute. The author is solely responsible for the content.