Throughout the course of my career I have had the opportunity to serve in a number of volunteer positions, and I believe joining a non-profit board has several benefits. First, it gives you board room experience so that you understand the organizational dynamics and etiquette of a board of directors. Secondly, it gives you a chance to enhance your teamwork skills with a set of usually highly accomplished peers. Third, you have an opportunity to hone small group presentation and conversational skills. Fourth, it gives you visibility in ways that you and your company wouldn’t receive otherwise. And, finally, you’re able to grow and develop personally and professionally.
If you don’t already have the experience and knowledge of developing strategic plans, dealing with budgets, and managing performance evaluations of other individuals, you will likely be exposed to these from serving on a non-profit board. You have access to interesting people who you ordinarily wouldn’t meet, which expands your network and gives you perspectives outside of your company or industry. You also are able to support and contribute to a cause that matters to you on a personal level.
When you are thinking about joining a board you should determine some of the following components:
-Does the board have competent, efficient leadership?
-Is there adequate liability insurance, if necessary?
-Is the financial condition of the organization relatively stable and manageable?
-How can you apply and advance your skills?
-Is there a financial contribution expected?
Ultimately, it is important to only join boards of organizations whose missions make you feel energized and enthusiastic. The board’s mission should reflect your values and world view. You don’t want to be donating your precious time, sitting through meetings and conference calls for an organization that you’re not excited to be working with.
Just as you find personal satisfaction from serving on a board, senior executives will designate their employees to serve on boards and get this meaningful experience. This not only positions the company as a leader in the community but also serves as a goodwill gesture when senior members simply do not have the time to commit.
Speaking of commitment, although it is flattering to be asked to join a board, it is better to say no than to perform poorly. It is best to limit yourself to no more than two to three at a time, so that you can give all your effort and not burn yourself out. Missing meetings only reflects negatively, and you will most likely lose credibility.
Today, my network represents years of cultivating relationships outside of the office. I’ve had the pleasure of giving back to the community and meeting great people along the way. They’ve became trusted friends, where we can share personal challenges and happiness, and in some cases, advisors when I faced changes in my career.
In the end, investing in a non-profit board experience can only boost your confidence and advance you professionally. “Do good” and help yourself at the same time.
Kathryn brings nearly 20 years experience in public relations and media relations, positioning clients and companies in local, regional and national outlets. She has managed several crisis communications situations, assisted in website development, coordinated company sponsorship programs, executed internal communications strategies, maintained effective relationships with local and municipal government leaders, and served as a company spokesperson. Her history of public relations excellence spans across a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical.
The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.