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Have You Thought About Volunteering on a Nonprofit Board?

Posted by Anne Wallestad, President & CEO, BoardSource on Nov 29, 2012 9:20:33 AM

By Anne Wallestad, president & CEO

Are you looking to make a BIG difference in your community? Have you considered joining a nonprofit board?

Individuals who are serving on boards are shaping the future of their organizations and helping to ensure that the organization is fulfilling its mission, serving its community, and sustaining its own success.

And nonprofit organizations need people like you on their board:

  • Are you committed to sharing your time and talents to help make the world a better place?
  • Do you have specialized skills or expertise that could benefit a nonprofit organization?
  • Are you able to be an enthusiastic advocate for an organization and encourage others to get involved too?

If so, then serving on a board might be a great way for you to make a real difference.

Here are some practical steps to help you finding the right board service opportunity for you:

  • Find your Passion: The first and most important step is to identify what type of organization you might want to be involved with. Is there a particular cause or mission about which you are passionate? Is there an organization that you’ve been volunteering for that might have an opportunity to get more involved? Do you donate funds to a cause that you’d be interested in supporting with your talents? If you’re going to dedicate the time and energy that board service requires, you want to make sure that you’re doing it for an organization that you really care about, otherwise you will struggle to find the motivation you need to be an inspired, productive board member…and that’s what every organization needs and deserves!
  • Do your Research: Search for organizations that are doing work that you care about, and learn more about how they tick. Who’s on their board now? Does it look like you could add a unique skill set or perspective? What are their primary sources of funding? Do you have the capacity and connections to help support their fundraising efforts?
  • Reach Out: After finding an organization that you would like to know better, contact that organization. Make an appointment with a board member or the chief executive and indicate your interest in joining the board. The organization may encourage you to join a committee or volunteer in another capacity before you are nominated for board service, so consider if you’re open to different ways to get involved, at least initially.
  • Ask Questions: There are things you should definitely know before you join a board, and you don’t want to be caught by surprise. What are the fundraising and personal contribution responsibilities? What is the meeting attendance policy? How many committee assignments are you expected to accept? For a list of good questions to ask, check out the cheat sheet in the BoardSource resource for Board Responsibilities and Structures.
  • Get Ready!: Once you have been invited to join a board, or even beforehand, it’s important that you educate yourself about what it means to be a strong, effective board member. BoardSource offers a certificate program that is a great introduction to the most important elements of board service, but you can also learn a lot by visiting www.boardsource.org and checking out the wide range of books, tools and articles that will help prepare you for this exciting new leadership role you’re taking on!

Topics: Perspectives on Board Service, Board Diversity & Inclusivity

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