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Serving on a Nonprofit Board: Is it the Right Decision for You?

January 21, 2015

Serving on a nonprofit board expands your resume and network but are the benefits worth the commitment?

Joining a Nonprofit Board of Directors could be an incredibly meaningful and fulfilling experience for you. A nonprofit organization’s board of directors is a vital instrument in the success of the nonprofit as a whole, and in determining the volume of revenue and support the organization receives. There are some important considerations however when it comes to joining a board. Here are a few things to contemplate before making your decision.

Consider a Board Position

By joining a nonprofit board, you will have the chance to:

  1. Make an impact- Being part of an organization that has personal significance for you or your interests is always a rewarding experience. Making a change for the greater good of something close to your heart makes the hurdles involved less challenging.
  2. Develop unique skills and knowledge- Stepping outside your usual atmosphere and joining a board gives you the chance to explore different interests and fields of business. You could be put in a leadership role, which gives you a chance to view operations from the CEO’s perspective. This experience will give you insight into the operations of business at the highest level, which could be very valuable especially for young professionals.
  3. Expand your network- You will likely meet a wide array of people with different skills and professional backgrounds. Many times board members are influential decision makers at prospective companies and forming professional relationships could benefit you and your organization in a big way.
  4. Build your resume- If you were asked to join a board, you likely have a background in a certain skill, which you can showcase in your new position, and improve upon even more. This will be a valuable piece for your resume—employers are looking for experience in your specific field or skillset.

Possible Drawbacks?

Joining a board can be a very rewarding experience however; there are a few important considerations you should take into account:

  • Commitment required- Board members typically have a large number of duties which can be taxing. Committing to writing letters, calling donors and organizing charity events is a big obligation! Additionally, there are committee meetings. With limited time, its good to start off with just one board. Some boards have long terms of service – as much as five years in some cases, so be sure to take that into account as well.
  • Personal contribution requirements- Many nonprofits expect personal contributions from board members, so expect the obligation to donate to the organization you are serving.
  • No financial compensation- This is perhaps the biggest consideration involved in serving on a board. Being passionate about an organization to the extent that you wish to be a part of is great, but keep in mind that you will likely not be paid for your services.

Joining a nonprofit board is a serious consideration. Ask yourself if you have enough passion to work with this organization to provide some kind of social and charitable benefit. Be sure to analyze the organization’s finances, board member responsibilities, and long-term plan.

Read our blog series to learn more about the responsibilities of Non-profit board members. Questions? Contact any member of our Not-for-profit Services Team.

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