Recently, I was asked to join the Board of a local nonprofit animal shetler here in my town. First I was hesitant due to the balance required for serving on one board (Green Starkville) with both my professional and personal lives. The responsibility of serving on a Board is something that should be taken seriously and not in a nonchalant manner. The immense ability to directly impact a social cause that is near to your heart is unparalleled in any other volunteer position you could hold. Now, I am not degrading the entry level volunteer or such. The fact is that if you wish to deeply and significantly influence a social cause in your town or state, serving on a Board (of Directors, Regents, Trustees) will get you there.
But if you are asked to serve, are thinking about serving, or are debating whether to one day shoot for a Board position, here are some reasons why you should.
- Responsible for directing the mission and vision of the organization
- Ability to speak for the organization at functions (such as fundraisers) to local friends to gain support
- Direct impact on current and future issues (with the debate that follows)
- Networking with other professionals of a like mind
- Experience builder for nonprofit skills
- Ability to leave a lasting positive impression on an organization years after you leave
But there are always drawbacks – However those more depend on what “type” of Board you are serving on. The two most dominant Board types I have come across are ‘Fundraising’ and ‘Working’.
- Weekly time commitment (especially for working Boards)
- Ability to raise personal funds in a specific amount ($1,000/$10,000/$25,000 yearly)
- Long term commitment of board service ranging from 1 to 5 years at minimum
- Being willing to talk about problems, issues, and matters that may be confrontational with others
However, to be balance in opinions – check out these great blogs/website posts about serving on a nonprofit board. These folks have been at this for some time and are great resources for you to use and advice to heed – From Entry Level to Leadership; How Do You Make a Nonprofit Board Not Boring?; My Theory on Nonprofit Leadership.