Young Professionals Board – Does Your Nonprofit Need One?

Good board members and volunteers don’t just spring up from the ground. Nonprofits have had to be more intentional and creative about cultivating future supporters by reaching out to people just starting their careers. “Young Professionals Boards” are popping up at many nonprofits. Is starting one a good idea for your organization?

young professionals board for nonprofits

Why have a Young Professionals Board (YPB)?

A YPB reaches out to the 21-40 age group in ways that they prefer to be involved. Broadly speaking, the YPB provides a way to reach out to this age group through their peers. It provides a platform for young philanthropists to learn more about the mission of your nonprofit, learn more about philanthropy in general, and to become ambassadors for your organization.  Specifically, members of a YPB create and manage some fundraising events for the nonprofit, make personal donations, and volunteer. For the nonprofit, it raises awareness of the mission and introduces the nonprofit to a new group of supporters.

What’s in it for the members of a YPB?

Members of the YPB can use this opportunity to learn philanthropy from the inside of a nonprofit and to network professionally with their peers and gain new friends. Additionally, they learn how to work on a board and prepare for experiences in governance. Although certainly not the only motivation, it also enhances the resume of a young professional person as well.

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How does a YPB differ from the Board of Directors? How do they fit with the overall structure of the nonprofit?

A YPB does not have governance responsibility for the nonprofit. The group is advisory and provides fundraising and volunteer support. Sometimes the president of the YPB is invited to serve on the board of directors of the nonprofit either in a voting or non-voting capacity.

The number of members of a YPB differs greatly. Some are small (10 -15 members) while others may be large (20-30 members). There is no set number of members of this type of board. Some choose to have a small board with a larger general membership. A healthy committee structure gives members a chance to participate and move into YPB board membership. Typical committees for a YPB may include executive, membership, events, marketing/PR and volunteer coordination groups.

How do you start a YPB?

Be sure that you are very clear about the purpose of your YPB. There should be a clear understanding among those you recruit that the YPB is advisory in nature. Organizations often include the officers of their YPB in board retreats, especially in retreats involving strategic planning.

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Talk to your colleagues at organizations that have a YPB. Ask them what they’ve learned about what’s working and what they might do differently in establishing their YPB. Look at the online information from organizations that have an active YPB. Reviewing their information will give you valuable information about how you want your YPB to function.

Don’t forget to recognize the contributions of your Young Professionals Board!

Remember, the members of the YPB are giving their time, talent and treasure to your nonprofit. Make sure that there are opportunities for the YPB to report to the governing board and to receive recognition and appreciation for their work. The YPB is also a great place to recruit new members for the governing board. Members of a YPB are a gift to a nonprofit that provides an added dimension of diversity, and new ways to understand a new generation of donors.

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