If you have not yet served on a nonproﬁt board of directors, then you might not realize the many advantages that experience in nonproﬁt leadership can lend to your position (and the positions of the up-and-coming-leaders working beneath you) as a leader in the business world.
In fact, it's possible you might even have the opinion that the time spent serving on a nonproﬁt board would be wasted time that could be better spent focused on the work you do in your own business.
While you might not feel like you have a minute to spare, choosing to dedicate some of your time to serving on a nonproﬁt board (and choosing to allow those in leadership positions within your company to serve, as well) is actually time very well spent.
In her 2018 Better World Leadership Nonproﬁt Board Leadership Study, Alice Korngold, President and CEO of Korngold Consulting, LLC, found that serving on nonproﬁt boards can help develop individuals. This development leads to positive behavior changes and increased eﬀectiveness and productivity in the oﬃce. Additionally, nonproﬁt board membership helps to create higher performing, inclusive teams through increased diversity. The study found that after just two years spent serving on a nonproﬁt board:
- 68% of participants reported feeling more conﬁdent
- 69% thought they had become better leaders
- 65% felt ready to take on more responsibility
- 69% described themselves as more useful
- 55% felt that they had become better qualiﬁed to receive a promotion
- 64% had found more meaning in their work
According to the study, the longer you serve, the more impactful these beneﬁts become.
Your time serving on a nonproﬁt board would not only be going toward a good cause, but you would also stand to gain countless beneﬁts and potentially encounter new opportunities serving on a nonproﬁt board – and that's why we believe that all business leaders should also be nonproﬁt leaders.
Top 10 Beneﬁts of Serving on a Nonproﬁt Board of Directors
1. Think More Strategically
If you're already running a business, then you're probably well-accustomed to thinking about business strategy. Individuals in your company, however, who are poised to move into leadership positions in the future or who are new to leadership might not be used to viewing the decisions they make through a forward-thinking, strategic lens. Serving on a nonproﬁt board is the perfect way to expose yourself or potential leaders in your business to situations that can help develop strategy and forward-thinking. Nonproﬁt board positions are working positions, which means it is the responsibility of the board members to make decisions that lead and direct the nonproﬁt. By serving on a nonproﬁt board, you can gain or improve your ability to make decisions, think critically, and solve problems as a part of a greater ability to plan strategically for future success.
2. Develop Leadership Skills
A nonproﬁt board's responsibility is to lead and direct the nonproﬁt. Nonproﬁt board members naturally develop essential leadership skills. While serving on a nonproﬁt board, members increase their emotional intelligence, becoming better listeners, more empathic, and more appreciative of diﬀerent experiences. As a result, board members improve their team leadership qualities, communication skills, and the ability to resolve conﬂicts and build consensus while working with many diﬀerent board members who come from diﬀerent backgrounds and diﬀerent viewpoints.
3. Enjoy Opportunities for Professional Development
In addition to developing leadership skills, nonproﬁt board memberships can also help you develop professional skills. While you already have certain professional skills that will be valuable to the nonproﬁt and your position on the board, you will likely also have opportunities to serve on diﬀerent committees within the board. As a result, you'll have the opportunity to learn new professional skills – from ﬁnance to marketing, sales, event planning, and human resources – and gain real experience developing them.
4. Make Important Connections
Professionals from all sorts of industries serve on nonproﬁt boards. Additionally, nonproﬁts work with long lists of donors, volunteers, and other benefactors. As a board member, you'll be working with these people and organizations, too. As a result, you'll have the opportunity to greatly expand your network. As you continuously make new connections, you'll gain new business contacts, potential clients, vendors, and opportunities.
5. Improve Financial Management
If you struggle to understand and implement good ﬁnancial management practices in your own business, then you'll have the opportunity to learn and improve these skills while serving on a nonproﬁt board. Nonproﬁts almost always run on very tight budgets which require them to keep overhead costs at impressive minimums. As a result, you'll learn budgeting, budget evaluation, and the skills to more eﬀectively evaluate, develop, and implement sound ﬁnancial practices in your business.
6. Beneﬁt From Diversity
Korngold's above-mentioned study also found that 78% of the board members included in the study reported listening more carefully to people with viewpoints that diﬀered from their own, and 85% also said that their service on nonproﬁt boards led to an increased appreciation of the perspectives and opinions of people from diﬀerent backgrounds. Diversity is good for business. In fact, one study that looked at 600 business decisions made by 200 diﬀerent teams found that, when it came to making important business decisions, diverse teams outperformed individuals 87% of the time. Additionally, diversity in business has the power to promote innovation, expand the talent pool, increase employee retention, improve problem-solving, and even help you tap into new markets.
7. Identify Your Strengths
Nonproﬁt organizations thrive by tapping into the many talents, skills, and knowledge sets of their various board members. While serving on a nonproﬁt board, you'll be asked to identify your professional strengths and put them to work. Additionally, you'll have the opportunity to discover talents you didn't know you had while serving on diﬀerent committees and helping out with various projects.
8. Positive Public Relations
Serving on a nonproﬁt board simply looks good. Although it might not seem like the most altruistic reason to join a nonproﬁt board, it can be a powerful one. Nonproﬁt board members have the opportunity to be seen giving back to the community while showing oﬀ their dedication to a good cause. If anything, serving on a nonproﬁt board with a cause that everyone can get behind is good optics for you, as a business leader, and for your business in the community.
9. Get Comfortable with Fundraising
Nonproﬁt board members are often tasked with reaching out to their own network of potential donors and/or a list of the organization's past donors to continue asking for contributions. At ﬁrst, many nonproﬁt board members feel awkward asking people for money. After some time, however, you will come to see that asking people for donations is actually gifting them with the opportunity to help out and make a diﬀerence in the community. As you practice and improve, you'll also develop your skills in delivering an elevator pitch and, in turn, become a better advocate to potential investors on behalf of your own business.
10. Intrinsic Rewards
Perhaps, this goes without being said, but it is worth mentioning. Serving on a nonproﬁt board can be highly fulﬁlling due to the great intrinsic rewards that come with this kind of work. To ensure you're fully able to enjoy these beneﬁts, do your research when deciding on which nonproﬁt you want to serve. Choose one that with a cause that resonates with you or with a mission that could have a potentially positive impact on your own business endeavors. When you care about the cause you're serving, you'll gain invaluable beneﬁts and feel good about the work you're doing.
Interested in learning more about becoming a United Way Board Member? Click here: https://www.unitedwaynci.org/volunteer-opportunities.