Leading with a Purpose:
Debunking Myths Around Nonprofit Board Service
With so much happening within our communities, we at Leadership Montgomery (LM) often receive requests from leaders about becoming more involved. Sure, volunteering at a local food bank or repainting the local school playground can be impactful (and we have opportunities for that), but many times, leaders are looking for more long-term involvement. Joining a nonprofit board may be a great place to begin.
Serving on a nonprofit board is a great way to gain and hone leadership skills, broaden professional networks, and, most importantly, make a difference in the community. Most leaders, including our leadership program graduates, don’t know where to begin or believe the widespread myths about board service. Training and matching programs like BoardMatch Montgomery (BMM) can be incredibly helpful to not just debunk common board service myths but to create board-ready local leaders who can effectively be part of a nonprofit board. Below are a few common myths we’ve heard about joining a board:
Myth #1- A board member’s career/industry needs to align with a nonprofit’s mission.
Nonprofits are boots on the ground and can benefit from the diverse skills of their board members. Leaders of all different areas, backgrounds, and industries can help, regardless of the organization’s programming. For example, Vikram P., a portfolio architect, primarily spends his time on the job utilizing his expertise in project management and leadership. After completing BMM training, he was matched with Passion for Learning and has used his background in technology to assist the organization on tasks such as surveys and data calls.
Myth #2- With so many nonprofits out there, it is easy to find and join a nonprofit board.
Even though she worked in the nonprofit sector most of her career, Current JCADA board member Kathy M. did not know where or how to start her board service. She always knew she wanted to join a board but seeking out the right board seemed overwhelming. She completed the BMM training and found the matching process to be incredibly easy. Now she is happily giving back to an organization whose mission she fully supports.
Myth #3- Running a company/team/department provides enough training to effectively serve on a nonprofit board.
Some who join nonprofit boards are not ready for the experience of serving on a board. There are many things to learn about the nonprofit landscape like legal aspects, reading nonprofit financial statements, and fundraising. New board members also don’t ask about expectations like a board’s ‘give or get’ policy before joining. Beth P. found the BMM training incredibly helpful in providing a framework of board service and a thorough overview of board responsibilities and governance. Through BMM, Beth was matched with Arts on the Block and currently serves as vice-chair.
Bottom line: strong leaders make strong organizations. If you are a local leader and want to learn more, BMM can teach you the skills necessary to successfully serve on a nonprofit board of directors – and then connect you to the nonprofits that need skilled leaders on their boards.