Business People on Nonprofit Boards: Advancing Organizations and Developing as Leaders

Dec 20, 2012 12:50 PM ET

Through service on nonprofit boards, business people from Fortune 500 companies bring valuable experience and expertise to bear in helping nonprofits to achieve their vital missions. A highly effective board will fulfill its work in partnership with the head of the nonprofit organization by envisioning the organization’s greater potential, creating the revenue model and maximizing financial success, and ensuring the organization’s integrity and high-impact results.

In order to accomplish its work, the board must be comprised of people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds who have experience in a variety of areas including strategic planning, organizational development, board governance, finance, law, and communications. The most effective board members are passionate about the organization’s mission, fully committed to the organization, and enthusiastic about contributing and raising valuable resources that will advance the organization. These resources include both financial and human capital, so board members who can access business volunteers with skills in IT, social media, market research, human resources, and other particular areas can be most helpful.

Board members develop as leaders through their board experience while also expanding their expertise in board governance and the field in which the nonprofit operates, whether that’s education, healthcare, employment, housing, economic development, environmental, or the arts. In fact, nonprofit board service is the ultimate experience in ethics, accountability, leadership, group dynamics, and crisis management and communications. This experience is useful back at work, contributing to the board member’s personal and professional growth.

Essential to a successful board experience is a good match between the board candidate and the nonprofit. It’s critical for people to choose the board not only on the basis of the mission but also with an understanding of the challenges facing the organization and ways in which they can be useful. Ultimately, board members find their experiences most rewarding when they are able to add value in helping to advance a nonprofit in achieving its important work.

There are a plethora of extraordinary nonprofits – global, national, and regional – that would benefit by your serving on the board, as long as you find the board where you care about the mission and the work, you understand what will be expected of you, and you are prepared to be generous. Choose carefully, and then enjoy the opportunity to help make your community and the world a better place, while you grow and learn as an individual.

You can join Korngold at a session on “Business People on Nonprofit Boards: Advancing Organizations & Developing Leaders” on January 11 in NYC. 

For continuation, see here...