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    Posted April 17, 2014 by
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    Help Your Career And Serve On A Board

    Serving on a social purpose non-profit/NGO board can be good for your career. When I was a full-time fundraiser, I spent a lot of time recruiting people to serve on boards. One of the important things to know is that this can actually help your own career. Social purpose boards in large and small organizations oftentimes have other individuals who can help advance your professional opportunities. Not only is it good and beneficial to serve on a board in order to provide your particular expertise, serving on a board typically provides an opportunity to meet senior professionals or other leaders in various fields. In addition, it also affords people a chance to work together, in this case to help further the mission of an organization, and because of it, there is plenty of opportunity to be able to work closely and develop relationships with people that you might not otherwise meet.

    I would like to address two important things to keep in mind, if you have not already thought of serving on a charitable board: 1) serving allows you to use your skills and help make a societal impact; and, 2) serving provides you the opportunity to help further your career.

    By serving on a social purpose organization’s board, you are providing your business, educational or personal expertise in order to help it advance its mission. Through your leadership and knowledge, you are able to stake a claim to helping improve the lives of others who may be less fortunate. Studies have found that in giving, people become happier. In addition, you are able to inform yourself about issues related to health, education, the environment, art, or whatever your interest is as it relates to your charitable endeavors. In the 20 years that I have worked in the sector, I have learned so much about certain topics because a good social purpose organization usually needs to address a problem and a need in society. So by default, those involved get to learn and understand the stories and statistics about the issue a particular organization is seeking to alleviate.

    However, serving on a charitable board also has definite benefits for the individual. Companies often look for individuals who are serving on non-profit/NGO boards because it signals to them that you have leadership skills. As I have previously mentioned, serving on a board provides an opportunity to network with other executives and professionals. Through the years, I saw business relationships and new deals or work opportunities take shape due to the fact that professionals met on a charitable board. In fact, I recall one time that two powerhouse executives who were in complimentary businesses first met serving on one of the boards where I worked and they soon developed a professional business relationship. I also remember working at another organization where a major financial company strongly encouraged executives to support and be involved with charitable organizations and this set the tone to the more junior professionals in the company who were seeking to advance in their profession.

    If you have never served on a charitable board, what can you expect? You can expect to work. Some organizations have monthly meetings, bi-monthly or quarterly. Most organizations expect you to serve on a committee of the board, which meet in between board meetings. It is very difficult these days to be involved in multiple charities at a leadership level because organizations do require a commitment.

    Charitable organizations have been squeezed post the financial recession. Government has cut back funding. Therefore, organizations rely on their board members to not only provide their time and expertise, but also to help fundraise. Some organizations have a “give or get off” the board policy and they expect a 100% commitment on each board member giving a personal financial gift to the organization. The level varies widely from a few hundred dollars in smaller non-profits to tens of thousands of dollars in large, typically cultural institutions. Other charities accept individual board members to either personally give or help fundraise by reaching out to others outside of the organization to support events or, perhaps, year-end giving.

    It is very important to become involved with an organization that aligns with your personal interests and values since you will be giving of your time and, very likely, helping to fundraise. Therefore, at the outset of the process of your potentially becoming involved with any organization, it is important to understand clearly what is expected of you with regard to your role and responsibilities, as well as that of the organization to its board members. Do your due diligence on the organization and understand the deeper issues of serving on a charitable board.

    That being said, serving on a social purpose board provides the ability to do good, help make an difference in the world and provides opportunities you might not otherwise have to network and work with senior executives and professionals, which could ultimately benefit your business or career.

    Please Don’t Forget to Follow My Blog at Living For Purpose™.

    Posted: April 17, 2014

    © 2014 Linda N. Spencer and “Living For Purpose™” all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda N. Spencer and “Living For Purpose™” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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