We often think of board members as rich and powerful individuals with years of experience, huge networks, and impressive resumes. We gaze at the board list of museums and foundations in awe. At the same time, we wonder why it’s always a struggle to recruit good board members.
Perhaps it’s time to change this image of board members.
The best image of a board member is YOU.
You are dedicated to the nonprofit sector, passionate about your cause, and incredibly smart. You multitask at work, juggling budgets, grant proposals, client services, and volunteers every single day. You know what it takes to run a nonprofit and -- just a guess -- you have many ideas on how to improve management and effectiveness. Wouldn't it be nice to exercise your skills and hold some decision-making power?
Board service can provide you with a multitude of experiences that you can’t get as a staff member. Hiring and firing Executive Directors, developing strategic plans, and mergers/dissolutions are all incredible, valuable experiences. Representing your nonprofit in the community, recruiting others to join you – these all look and feel different from board height. In fact, it is different, because you are voluntarily giving yourself to the organization that you care about. The same awe you hold for other boards will be held of you.
So how to go about joining a board? First, commit the time and effort it takes to be on a board – we all know what it's like to have absent board members. Then, find a nonprofit whose cause you care about, and whose staff you admire and want to work with. Start by going to their events, talking with current board members, and reading their e-newsletters. Finally, ASK. In all likelihood, the nonprofit will be thrilled and grateful to have you.
Nonprofits are supposed to represent those they impact in the community, including on their boards. Everyone has something valuable to offer to the board and board leadership has many things to offer to you as well. With over 28,000 nonprofits in Colorado and growing there is at least one out there that needs your help.