Accelerate Your Career: Volunteer on a Committee or Join a Nonprofit Board

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Are you struggling to find meaning in your day-to-day job? Feeling “stuck” in your current position/career? Looking to impact your local community? Serving on a nonprofit Board or committee may be the next role you want to consider.  Board Service opportunities provide avenues to explore new leadership forums. This may lead to a position on a public, corporate board or board chair service. It may even lead to an opportunity to serve in an advisory role.

Moms Are Leaders

Nonprofits are a great way for working and stay-at-home moms to lend their experience and expertise directly to the community.  Serving on a board provides a safe, hands-on environment to refine leadership style, enhance diplomatic and communication skills, and expand professional networks.  Board service also provides opportunities for women to extend their professional focus areas. It promotes mentorship and allows individuals to develop and test new skills.  Moms everywhere have knowledge and experience to share. Some of these skills include legal, auditing and financial, communication and marketing, strategic planning, fundraising, human resources fields, and so on.

An opportunity to grow my skills

While my career is focused on software and data analytics/IT, I have personally benefited from the experience of serving on a Board for a local non-profit. It provides a safe and low-pressure environment to groom my public speaking, and I have been able to explore issue advocacy through written op-eds and influence strategic plans. Additionally, I have  assisted with donor engagement and fundraisers. I now fill an essential position as an Interim & Executive Director.

Diversity matters at the board table

Now more than ever, nonprofits are exploring ways to diversify their Board table and increase representation among gender, color, and socioeconomic status. According to a report released by 50|50 Women On Boards in late 2020, Women hold 23.7% of corporate board seats on the Russell 3000 Index.

A recent 2020 report from BoardSource indicated that of the 127 non-profits surveyed, “Only 38% of the Executive Directors felt that their Boards represented the communities they serve.”  This presents a challenges as the non-diverse board struggles to strengthen the programing and services, which makes it difficult to build trust with the community served.

Getting involved with a non-profit board is an excellent way to prepare yourself for future corporate board representation. 50|50 Women on Boards illuminates the concept that  “Valuing, supporting, and modeling diversity can create opportunities to challenge conventional perceptions, ignite creativity, and enrich our conversations and connections.”

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How To Find Board-Service or Volunteer Opportunities

There are several ways to get connected to organizations that match qualified candidates to specific roles: a pro-bono volunteer, committee member or Board member.

Opportunities to Volunteer:

Opportunities for Board Matching:

Opportunities for Training

Before you Join a Board

Prior to committing to a Board, it is important to identify clear expectations about the following:

Time commitment

  1. Ask about expectations.
  2. Be prepared to commit with regards to committee involvement, advocacy, board meetings and mission engagement.

Financial commitment

  1. Clarify expectations around the give and get for fundraising.
  2. Identify how this Board manages their financial commitments.

Conflicts of Interest

Be sure that your interests serving on the Board do not get in the way of your professional and personal interests.

Directors’ and Officers’ Insurance

Ensure your protection, should something happen to the organization.

Other things to look for:

  1. Confirm the stability of the organization and the relationship between Board & Staff.
  2. Understand your fiduciary responsibilities to oversee the organization’s budget planning, accounting and 990.  As a Board member, you are entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility to see that donor funds are well spent and aligned with the interests of the organization.

Are you a member of a board or committee? Share your experience in the comments below!

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