Things To Consider Before You Join a Young Friends Board posted 12/21/16

By Jill Lewin

Coworkers discussing in meeting room

Serving on a young professionals board is an honor and an incredible opportunity. An opportunity to help an organization you believe in. An opportunity to meet new people. An opportunity to grow professionally and personally.

It is also a big responsibility and commitment. Before you join a young professionals board, there are a few things I recommend you consider.

Time Commitment and Hard Work

Board members contribute a tremendous amount of time and talent to achieve a nonprofit’s mission…monthly board meetings, fundraising events, etc. In addition to those scheduled meetings and events, board members often spend additional hours working with committees, soliciting donations, working on Power Point presentations and Excel spreadsheets, planning the event logistics, meeting with potential new board members, etc. Not all of those hours are fun; although, they are always rewarding in the end. They are hard work and require dedicated time. Ask what the time commitment expectations are before you join. And then be honest with yourself as to how much of your time you are willing to dedicate to the board.

Passion for the Mission

When I joined my first board, I didn’t know much about the nonprofit it supported. I hadn’t been involved with the organization beforehand. They reached out and asked me to join through a mutual friend. When I joined the board, I had to play catch up to learn everything I could about the nonprofit while also trying to learn how the board operates and meet all of the other board members.

I always recommend that people get involved with a nonprofit as a volunteer first, or at a minimum attend some of the organization’s fundraising events. This ensures that you know what the group stands for, who is involved with it, and if the mission aligns with your passion. It will make for an easier onboarding process.

The Other Board Members

Remember, those board members were all strangers once. When you do join the board, reach out to the other board members and invite them to coffee or lunch. The sooner the better! Learn why they got involved and what keeps them on the board. It will be easier to work together as a board and more enjoyable to attend meetings once you know the people around the table.

It’s a great way to build a working relationship and possibly create new friendships. I have made great business connections. I have formed incredible friendships with fellow board members. I have grown professionally and personally due to working with fellow board members.

So before you join a nonprofit young friends board, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I willing to contribute the necessary time to be a successful board member?
  • Am I able to use my skills or talents to contribute to the board in a meaningful way?
  • Am I passionate about the mission of the nonprofit?
  • Am I comfortable working alongside the current board members to achieve the mission?

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