Personal and Professional Benefits of Serving on a Nonprofit Board
Want to give back to the community while developing yourself personally and professionally? Invest your time into serving on a nonprofit board. You’ll broaden your perspective, enhance your skill set, make a difference in the world, and gain a new network of individuals that will enrich your life in ways you never imagined.
First of All, Volunteers are Needed
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States. These include public charities, private foundations, and other nonprofit organizations.
So, if you are asking yourself if you are needed, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
What is a Nonprofit Organization?
According to Wikipedia, a nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a shared point of view. In economic terms, it is an organization that uses its surplus of revenues to further achieve its ultimate objective, rather than distributing its income to the organization’s shareholders, leaders, or members. Nonprofits are tax-exempt or charitable, meaning they do not pay income tax on the money they receive for their organization. They can operate in religious, scientific, research, or educational settings.
What You’ll Get from the Experience:
Change in Perspective
One of the first things I learned from my personal experience in joining a nonprofit board is that it enables you to gain a new perspective outside of your own purview. To be frank, I am used to wearing the CEO hat, providing oversight to the team and our clients, and being responsible for my business and all it entails. What I have learned, however, is that you really benefit from wearing a volunteer leadership hat.
Case in point, I am a past chair for a local chamber. I learned that I had to change my point of view and think about the community at large and all of its stakeholders. I needed to listen to not only the views of the collective board, the chamber staff, the city, and schools, but also the business community. It helped me understand the importance and role of advocacy at the local level—and how the various stakeholders needed to work together to achieve a collective goal for a city.
Enhance Your Skill Set
By being on a nonprofit board, you learn about diplomacy, governance, fiduciary responsibilities, the importance of events, and fundraising. Some of the key tenets of nonprofits include accountability, trustworthiness, honesty, and providing openness to every person who has invested time, money, and faith into the organization.
These skills will enhance your overall leadership skills because you are leading on behalf of an organization and the greater good for an important cause, versus a department or individual company.
Make a Difference
In thinking back on ways I have been able to make a difference, a few direct examples come to mind. Some organizations have not had exposure to primary research or new media. I have donated my agency’s time (and of course my time) to conduct research to understand member satisfaction and the viability of new programs, events, or service programs that have been game-changing from an overarching strategy perspective. We have also developed branding and digital recommendations that have helped establish organizations and their overall offerings (See Legacy Next and our tagline “Where Purpose Meets Need”) for example.
And it just feels good to make a difference—to contribute professionally to a cause.
Gain Invaluable Connections
Nonprofit boards are a great place to meet other business leaders and peers. These boards attract motivated and intelligent people—you will meet awesome people through your work together! Your fellow board members will value the time that you put in, and they may even support you through a job search, prospective clients, or a hunt for a new mentor. It worked for me. I have been on education, bank business advisory, new company start-up, and manufacturing boards. I’m still in contact with many of these people. Some of them are clients, some of them are vendors, and most are great friends!
You’ll engage with people you wouldn’t typically be in contact with that are in industries or roles that bring value to an organization. You will learn from those exchanges, and those people can learn from you too. Your connections can also be leveraged to the greater good of a nonprofit entity. You can add value with the experience and connections you have. You can create a legacy of work that transcends what you would typically be exposed to with your current role in your organization.
How to Get Started
As a matter of fact, you can get started now with a new website called Legacy Next. It was created to connect volunteer-minded business people with nonprofits in need of specific business skills. Go to https://legacynext.galaxydigital.com/learn-about-legacy-next/ to learn more. Get out there and share your gifts with the world!
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ―Pablo Picasso
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