Are You a “LinkedIn Board Member?”

Boardable CEO Jeb Banner talks authentic board service.

There are many reasons to join a nonprofit board. In today’s modern, Millennial-run philanthropic landscape, people are more committed to charitable causes and giving. While in the past this hasn’t always meant that people will actually become involved, it’s now become a sort of given that adults with the time to give should be giving, whether through volunteering, donating, or joining a board. This mentality has resulted in many people becoming involved with charities for the right reasons, but it has also given rise to something else: the “LinkedIn board member.”

What is a LinkedIn board member?

A quick Google search for “reasons to join a nonprofit board” brings back the typical answers one might expect to see: a chance to become involved with an organization you’re passionate about, a chance to work on a professional team, and, of course, the chance to boost your resume. It’s this last one that starts to veer into LinkedIn board member territory. A LinkedIn board member is someone who joins a nonprofit board solely for the credibility, networking opportunities, and résumé padding this position provides.

LinkedIn board members aren’t emotionally attached to a nonprofit or its mission. They typically aren’t as engaged as other board members because they simply don’t care about the outcomes or strategic vision of an organization. Instead, they are there to make a name for themselves. Other signifiers of a LinkedIn board member include:

  • LinkedIn board members are regularly late to board meetings or miss them altogether.
  • They rarely read the materials or prepare for meetings when they do attend.
  • Often, they don’t speak up or offer new ideas to the group except for when their name or brand can be attached to the initiative.
  • Generally, they avoid leadership roles or taking an active position within the board.
  • They’re happy to write big checks and attend parties on behalf of the nonprofit, but they rarely contribute volunteer hours or other resources.

Here are tips to NOT become a LinkedIn board member.

Right off the bat, the easiest way not to become a LinkedIn board member is to always join a nonprofit board for the right reasons. LinkedIn board members have a reputation for being unengaged and emotionally distant from a nonprofit because they don’t care deeply enough about the mission and value the nonprofit is providing. If you’re ready to join a nonprofit board, make sure you’re ready for the commitment and expectations. Nonprofit board members guide the strategic direction of nonprofit organizations, which makes their emotional connection that much more critical.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself if you’re thinking about joining a nonprofit board:

  • Am I joining this board simply because someone else asked me or told me to join?
  • Can I follow through on the time commitments and be held accountable to deadlines?
  • Do I connect on an emotional level with the mission and vision of the nonprofit?
  • Am I dedicated to helping this nonprofit grow and succeed beyond making large donations?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, you should have a better idea of how you emotionally connect with an organization. While nonprofit boards offer amazing opportunities for networking and professional development, this shouldn’t be the main reason you join a board. When the mission comes first, everything else will come easier down the road.

Interested in how to make your board of directors more productive through the effective use of technology? Boardable is a software platform that centralizes all communication between you and your board. Find the best meeting times, securely store all of your documents, archive discussion threads and more—all in one place. Click below to schedule a demo with a member of our Boardable team.

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