5 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Young Professionals Board

For anyone interested in supporting a nonprofit’s efforts in the community, joining a young professionals board is a perfect way to casually learn about nonprofit board service. Young professionals boards typically consist of young professionals who are interested in building awareness for the organization they serve while learning more about their community. This goal is accomplished in many different ways, depending on the expectations for the board’s members.

Not all young professionals boards are structured alike, and many offer different opportunities to give back depending on the organization’s mission. Because the expectations of serving on a young professionals board vary, be sure to consider the following questions before committing to board service:

1. How much free time do you have?
Many young professionals boards require potential members to submit an application detailing their previous volunteer experiences, interest in the organization, special skill sets and meeting availability. The time commitment varies, but it’s safe to expect most young professionals boards to hold quarterly meetings as well as encourage their members to serve on a committee outside of the general meetings. With fundraising and social events, having time to spare is a necessary part of being an engaged board member.

2. What can you offer financially?
If you’re interested in joining a young professionals board, it’s likely that you want to give back through more than donating money. However, all young professionals boards require management by an employee and donations can help offset associated staff costs. Although some young professionals boards may not require personal contributions, don’t be surprised if you encounter ones that have yearly membership dues. And, whether or not it’s required, try to donate to the organization – after all, your ultimate goal is to help the nonprofit reach more people in need.

3. What’s your passion?
Given the time and (potential) financial commitment required of board members, it’s important to have a clear understanding of why you want to support a particular nonprofit by serving on its young professionals board. If you’re thinking about serving simply because a friend has asked, take the time to research the nonprofit’s impact in the community and determine if its work aligns with your core values. If you can clearly articulate your passion for the cause, you will be an ideal board member and advocate for the organization.

4. How many people serve on the board, and what’s the culture like?
Before committing to board service, contact the manager of the young professionals board and ask if it’s possible to attend an upcoming board meeting as an observer. Through observation, you can gain a better understanding of the culture of the board and how the members interact with one another. If this isn’t possible, check online to get an idea of how many members the board currently has, how many members are currently active, and the benefits of board service.

5. What do you hope to gain from serving on a young professional board?
Nonprofits are always looking for credible volunteers who can contribute to their mission through skills-based volunteering. If you want to expand your professional skill set through volunteering, make your interest clear in initial conversations with the manager or president of the board. The best young professionals board service opportunities align your professional talents with the needs of the nonprofit.

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Emily Knippa

Emily Knippa is a St. Louis-based marketer and writer who focuses on content marketing, career development, and personal finance. She enjoys meeting people pursuing inspiring career paths. She’d love to meet you at the next United Way event. Say hello to Emily on Twitter at @emilyknippa.