A conversation can change lives in an instant. You’re talking with a few people when a light bulb goes on. You go back to your office and make a phone call. You share. Something awesome happens. That’s what happened to me. I became a volunteer at a non-profit because of a casual invitation to a very special graduation. The rest was history. I had skills they needed, and I wanted to get involved. That was 4 years ago. Then something happened. The more I gave back, the more I got in return.
Instead of cutting into my life, my growing role expanded my life. Just like parents whose love grows with each child, the organization grew my capacity to care and help. It let me forget my own agenda for a while and focus on the needs of others, which put things clearly in perspective. I went back to my desk refreshed, even inspired. So 4 months ago I joined the Board.
The case for non-profit Board membership
Non-profit organizations are driven by their mission, and fueled by grants, donors, staff, volunteers and community partners. But they’re guided by the
Board of Directors - men and women who believe in the cause and commit to it by connecting the organization to their networks, talents and resources.
Don’t let your age or your job title stop you from considering Board participation. Today’s Board is evolving. It’s not just an aging group of professionals who write checks. Many boards are recruiting from more diverse pools these days. Younger, less seasoned members are a legacy for the future of the .org. They also bring new energy, different skill sets and a less entrenched perspective.
New eyes. New skills. New energy. For everyone. Even you.
Just as Boomers can bring experience and wisdom, Millennials can bring a fresh set of eyes, ideas and possibilities. By bringing in younger members, Boards can learn a lot about what resonates with a new generation, and in the process refine their vision.
And the benefits are mutual. As a board member you’ll learn new skills, and hone the ones you have, to enhance your career. You’ll meet and work with business and community leaders, and share with other non-profits. And you’ll learn how to run an organization as part of a team of leaders.
Not every non-profit is for you. The stronger you feel about the cause and the people who are running the organization, the more you’ll enjoy giving time to it. Each Board has its own requirements and expectations too. Some require multi-year term or annual financial commitments, or both. It pays to know those things going in.
Joining the Board of a non-profit that inspires and impresses you will change your life. It will test your leadership. It will show you the tangible fruits of your labors. It will connect with a whole network of new friends. It will teach you the secrets to moving mountains. And it will make you feel better about your place in the universe. Most of all, you’ll make a difference for them, and see the difference in you.
Be a catalyst. Go inspire someone. Join a non-profit Board.
Kathy Eber is a freelance writer from Ingleside. She currently sits on the Board of YouthBuild Lake County, a non-profit organization that gives at-risk young adults a second chance by providing them with the education and training needed to build a better future for themselves and their families.