five march 2023 blog hero the coffee the code and the creative

March 12, 2023


Having spent decades being an active member of various nonprofit boards, I can attest that doing a term or two on a board of directors can be both eye opening and rewarding as possible. It’s something every business professional should do at least once. Here’s why.

  1. A board is constitutionally built with folks from many different backgrounds. Each person brings with it a value system, business acumen and emotional level unlike the next. As such, you will come to know what it means to give and take in order to come to a consensus and move forward with an action item. This is a powerful learning experience that you can assimilate to your own career.
  2. Asking For Donations. Throughout our lives, we have experienced the need to ask for money to obtain something we want. It may have been hitting up the parents for extra money for prom, a friend to spot you for lunch and you’ll pick up the tab the next time or applying for a student loan to attend college. On a board of directors, you’ll be asked to do the same as part of your board “give or get to give” requirements. The task is no different than what you experienced growing up – you have a need and request the funding to obtain the need. Since you’ve already experienced how to ask for money throughout life, this should be an easy to find friends, colleagues, fellow churchgoers, fantasy football enthusiasts, or your employer with whom you can start a conversation about what our nonprofit is doing and then ask them to contribute whatever you think is the appropriate amount in relation to your nonprofit’s goals. The more often you practice this skill, the easier it becomes!
  3. A Difference To Your Community. Here is where your commitment to active participation on a nonprofit board comes into play. Your nonprofit exists to make some type of impact to the improvement of your local community; whether it is to provide art and music to children in schools, assist military veterans with jobs or aid, helping the homeless, assisting those who need healthcare, advocating for legislative changes, or raising money to fight some terrible disease, you are contributing to the improvement of life for those around you. Just wait until that first time when you are in public and witness the results of your efforts. Somewhere you helped someone achieve a dream they thought was impossible or reduced someone’s pain. It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling you’ll remember throughout your life.
  4. Develop Stronger Communication Skills. Remember how we were discussing the values and backstories all board members bring to the table? Here is where it comes into practice. Your parents taught you to play nicely with everyone in the schoolyard. It’s no different on a board of directors. Observe your fellow board members for tips on how to articulate communication so that you can encourage others to accept your statement, argument or actions request. Occasionally, you may find a “bully” somehow is part of your board team. You’ll utilize all those diplomacy skills to great use. That really is something valuable to take with you to the business place.  If you happen to already possess these golden communication skills, your board of directors could learn something from you. It’s a win-win all around!
  5. Strengthen Team Leadership. After joining a board of directors, you may find yourself with the opportunity to join an action committee; possibly even being the chairperson of this committee. What a wonderful opportunity to develop stronger leadership skills getting your fellow board members to coalesce and complete a series of milestones necessary to achieve that committee’s task assignments. You may learn to read nonprofit financial statements, marketing, donor development, seeking and vetting new board members, or even organizing an annual fundraising/gala event. These are all skills you can bring to your day job.
  6. Expand Your Professional Connections. When you reside on a board, you’ll meet many people who can be a gateway to making a much needed connection to your business or a potential client. It could be someone on your board, a donor or vendor who supplies materials or services to your board. These are folks you may not have crossed paths with had you not joined a nonprofit organization.
  7. Public Optics. Depending on the nonprofit’s level of public exposure, you may find yourself appearing on public media such as newspapers, Internet or social media. When your nonprofit does well and you are associated with said organization, then that shine rubs off on you. It helps increase your face value in the business world. It’s a wonderful byproduct of being actively involved in an organization with a high level of exposure.

Join a nonprofit today and learn how you can change not only your own life and career but contribute to the better evolution of your own community. You’ll be the better for it.