Every board of directors needs experienced, dedicated professionals with years of service, skills, and a rich network of connections to draw upon. However, such people do not just appear magically. They need to be nurtured over time before they can provide high-level leadership in cooperation within a well-developed peer group. Such people will develop naturally, but not in reliable numbers.. This is why we have young professionals boards (YPBs) to jumpstart board member recruiting.
The purpose of a YPB is to cultivate the talent of young professionally-minded people who supplement the main board’s activity. Simultaneously, it’s developing its members into ideal members of the senior board.
We’re looking at people in the age range of 21 to 40. Qualified candidates have shown aptitude academically, with practical business experience. They will have a demonstrated interest in philanthropy. When it comes to fundraising, you’ll find that motivated YPB members have extra energy and verve. So, realistically, the purpose of a YPB is to jumpstart board member recruiting and train young professionals for a place on the senior board. It is also benefits the nonprofit to take advantage of the energetic power of the enthusiastic fundraiser.
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The idea of a YPB is to give promising young people the opportunity to develop their full executive potential in a hands-on way. Giving them some degree of executive power is a reward for their accomplishments, and a way to give them practical experience as a member of the board.
Consider giving your YPB a fundraising event to manage, or an area of programming to support. The important thing is to charge them with some kind of responsibility without violating your bylaws or fiduciary duties. Often, YPB members are great subcommittee members, so use those skills as much as you can!
Putting together a senior board is challenging, but you do have the advantage of being able to look at their track record. With young people, it’s not so simple. Being a good judge of character becomes important when recruiting young professionals for key positions.
Every nonprofit cause is different, has different business models, and different needs. So, it’s important that candidates have knowledge pertaining to the particular cause of your organization and the population you serve.
For any business, be it nonprofit or otherwise, marketing and outreach are everything. New members should have an interest, aptitude, or experience in branding, messaging, and marketing in general. Not to mention, these people will be great candidates for board member recruiting later.
In the end, fundraising is what a board of directors is largely about. Your YPB is a kind of junior board of directors. Therefore, prospective YPB members should have some interest, aptitude, or experience in fundraising.
Potential members who have worked with a student government organization, served as members of some kind of junior advocacy group, or who have shown leadership in any capacity, will be good candidates. The overriding instinct to serve a purpose that transcends the self might be the best indicator of a good candidate. Use some of the same criteria you use for board member recruiting.
Of course, every nonprofit has legal considerations that a board must be guided by. Therefore, anyone with legal knowledge, experience, or training is an asset. Often, large law firms have young professional service committees. These are great places to recruit beginning law professionals for your organization.
Developing a young professionals board is a great way to keep your nonprofit organization strong into the future. It is a long-term strategy for securing your board member recruiting beyond the foreseeable future. Take the time to find the best members, as you can expect to be working with them for many years.