“Some corporations are extremely well managed; some Non-Profit organisations are. It has nothing to do with the sector. It has to do with quality of management” – Wise businessperson who sits on NFP Board.
In your ideal board career, offers would flow in from the boards of the most prestigious organisations in the land. Back in the real world, your first board appoint isn’t going to be on the ASX 100 list. As you start your board career, you should look to secure a role in a not-for-profit organisation. Look at any high-profile board director’s career path, and there are very few that have not served time on an NFP board, and there is a reason.
A not-for-profit appointment provides excellent networking opportunities. You might be surprised at just how many connections you’ll build through a community-based board. You’ll likely meet people within your community with whom you may not otherwise interact. It goes beyond those just serving on the board but also convening with stakeholders affected by the board’s decisions. Being involved within your community gives you exposure to a whole new group of people with which you can network, a unique opportunity worth taking.
While an NFP appointment looks good on your resume and helps with your overall career path, in actuality, it benefits you in becoming a well-rounded, professional individual. When you serve on a non-profit, community-based board, this helps to round out your overall experience. You can show future employers or boards that you have both corporate and non-profit community experience, which goes a long way in escalating your career.
You’ll gain experience beyond just the corporate boardroom table; something important to consider that most people skip past. Sure, many may serve on a corporate board, and that’s valuable experience in its own right. When you serve on a non-profit or community-based board though, you gain experience with entirely different issues. You can make an impact and be part of something bigger; be involved in so many more pivotal decisions, as the board becomes a point of reliance for the organisation.
Becoming a member of an NFP board can help to shape you into a well-rounded individual with experience that you couldn’t possibly get elsewhere. It may be a stepping stone, or it may transform into something that you are committed to in the long term.
Pioneering American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie once set the standard for giving back: “No man can become rich without himself enriching others,” he said, “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.”
Serving on a not-for-profit or community-based board is something that few of us tend to consider in our career path. It’s a different way of doing things, but one that you will likely come to appreciate and enjoy, encompassing valuable experience and some helpful contacts along the way. After all, sometimes the non-traditional path can be the best thing to set you apart from the crowd.
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