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How to Join a Nonprofit Board of Directors

Get the right people to notice you with these tips.

There are many reasons why you may want to join a nonprofit board. It can give you a very hands-on way to help a cause about which you feel strongly. It is a great way to raise your profile in the community, which is helpful if you are starting your own business or running for political office. Joining a nonprofit board can also give a boost to your career by expanding your network and strengthening your project management and team building skills. Improving your career this way can lead to more promotion opportunities and higher pay.

Regardless of your reason, if you have made the decision to join a nonprofit board, you should know that the process of how to do that is not as mysterious as it may seem. Here is what you need to do if you want to serve on a nonprofit board…

Decide on the Type of Organization You Want to Serve

When making the decision of which board to join, ask yourself which causes mean the most to you. Which ones do you currently volunteer for or donate money to? Choosing a group with a cause for which you have a passion is important, because you will pour a lot of your time and energy into the cause through your activities on the board. Make it something you feel good about serving, and your experience on the board will be a delight to you.

Not only will you enjoy serving on a board that means something to you, your passion for the cause will be an important factor in getting you through committee meetings (which can sometimes be dry), interviewing personnel, and fundraising, all of which are things you will have to do as a board member. You will also have a stronger commitment to making the objective of the group succeed if you have passion for it.

Make a List of Your Skills

Just as important as your interests and passions in the nonprofit world are your skills. Nonprofit boards recruit members to join them based on who they know, and what skills the board needs at any given time. If you take the time to identify and list your own skills, you will have them at the ready when the board you have been hoping to join is recruiting again.

Some skills that may be useful when you join a nonprofit board include, but are not limited to:

  • Management of teams
  • Fundraising
  • Bookkeeping
  • Talking to the media
  • Writing press releases
  • Organization
  • Ability to work independently and without supervision
  • Ability to work with a diverse population of people

Investigate the board you hope to join and learn about its needs and its unique culture. You will get a much better idea of whether your skills match their needs, as well as whether you would be a good fit for them. If you decide you aren’t a good fit for one board, look into others. There is a board out there that needs someone just like you to serve on it.

Make Yourself Known

Most nonprofit boards bring people on who they know, or who they have heard of in the community or nonprofit world. Therefore, if you want to join a nonprofit board, you need to make yourself visible and known to the nonprofits in your community. There are a number of ways you can do this. For example, if you are interested in joining a particular nonprofit board, introduce yourself to someone on the board and let them know of your interest. You may be reaching out at the exact moment they are looking for someone, but even if they aren’t, they will have your contact information and remember you when they need to recruit again.

You should also promote yourself by letting people in your network know you are looking to join a nonprofit board. The people in your network may be on boards themselves, or at least know people who are. When you start letting everyone know your goal, your name will get mentioned in the right circles, and the correct people will find you.

Additionally, look for online postings for board members, and be open to joining junior boards first. You can work your way up from there, and eventually serve on a nonprofit board you care about when the people on that board get to know you and respect the work you do for the group.

RELATED: How to Be Effective As a New Board Member


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Boardable is a software platform that centralizes all communication between you and your board. It can even assist with new board member training by allowing a new member access to all of the required documents and even the full board directory right through our board portal. Learn more by clicking below to schedule a demo with a member of our team.

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