Serving on Boards
Serving on the board of a non-profit can be rewarding in many ways. Not only will you be helping a cause you believe in, but you’ll be making business contacts and getting leadership experience at the same time. Following the steps below can help you determine if serving on a board is right for you.
Are you Compatible?
Assessing compatibility is crucial to joining the right board. All it takes is a little bit of research. Some questions worth considering are: is the organization financially viable? What is the range of expertise for the board members? What is the reputation of the particular board or non-profit? Does that reputation line up with your business mission statement or personal brand? Answering these questions will help you determine if the organization and the people on its board are in line with both your professional aspirations and personal convictions. You might also consider what’s at stake for your company if you join a given board. Could this perhaps offer opportunity to grow your contact base? Or will you constantly be bumping up against industry rivalries?
Navigating Conflicts of Interest
If or when you look to your nonprofit board as a way of generating potential leads, it can be a slippery slope. The main issue comes back to conflict of interest. Corporate relationships are always on tenterhooks in the public eye. If you utilize inside information to generate leads, you’ve created a conflict of interest. This previous Alpha Kappa Psi blog post about understanding conflicts of interest can be of help in ensuring your volunteer and business practices are ethically sound.
Knowing the Mechanics
Understanding the day to day operations of the board is necessary for determining how your board service can fit into your already hectic life. Some questions you can ask to get started are: Who serves on the board currently, and how did they get there? How many board members need to be present to make a decision? What events, if any, will you need to attend outside of actual board meetings? When you become a board member, you’ve usually been solicited because the existing board members think you’re a good fit. But, you do want to know why they think that, on top of covering all your bases in day-to-day operations. For example if a board selects you because they’re hoping to spawn donor leads through your contact list, you might find it better for your business or your relationships with friends to abstain.
Have you had personal success serving on a board? What do you value about your non-profit experience? Share your opinion below and keep this dialogue going!