Giving back by serving on a Not-For-Profit (NFP) Board helps you get involved in your community in a meaningful way. Not only can it be an enriching experience, but it can also help build your network by connecting you to new people and exposing you to new sectors and/or industries. Besides, NFP Boards can help get governance education. Here are some insights on serving on not-for-profit boards:
From volunteer to not-for-profit board member
Prepare by understanding what value you will bring. Then, let your network know that you’re interested in joining a NFP Board. Take board members out for coffee to get a feel for what their NFP Board looks for and their expectations. Serving on a committee is also an excellent way to see how the board operates, their relationship with the organization’s management, and the board to assess your work style—a lot of NPF Boards consider their committee member for open positions.
Choosing the right Not-For-Profit board
Talk to current and past board members to see the challenges, expectations, and commitments for their board role. Understand the organization’s financial situation and the fundraising events that they run. Use your network to evaluate NFP Board opportunities to ensure that you are a good fit and share the same values.
While an ICD.D or C.Dir designation is not essential for serving on a NFP Board, it can be beneficial from both an educational and networking perspective. NFP Boards are about skillsets and fit. Knowing your value proposition helps to showcase your skills and fit the board.
When you join a NPF Board, it is an unspoken expectation that you will bring your network with you. Some boards have a personal donation commitment, and others have a fundraising commitment for their members. If you are not comfortable approaching your network, you can offer to make introductions between the people you know who share your interests (including your company) and the organization.
How to exit gracefully
If you can no longer serve on the board, the best way to approach your departure is honestly. Speak to the Chair and let them know the reason that you will be leaving. If your position has a set term limit, don’t renew your term. Help ease the transition by looking for a successor in advance of your exit.
Tips for getting involved in your community
- Decide how much time you want to invest (the more involved you get, you will need to make time to commit).
- Know your limits and don’t overextend yourself — chairing boards and committees is a massive undertaking.
- Set boundaries — if you are an excellent volunteer, more will be asked of you.
- Do your best by giving back to organizations that you’re passionate about.
- Lend your skills to a different sector that you are not familiar with.
- Step up and play an active role. It’s not helpful to the board or yourself if you can’t fulfil the role.
NFP Boards offer a great way to get involved in your community (especially if you’re new to the area), learn about a new sector, seek a new position, expand your network, meet new people, and develop new skills. When you do take on a new board role, remember to take the time to get to know your fellow board members; they may have other board opportunities that you would be a great fit for!
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