If there was ever a time to take the leap and deepen your involvement with a community organization, this could be your year.
Nonprofits have worked tirelessly to adapt to the rapidly changing realities of the pandemic—finding creative ways to deliver programs, keeping staff and volunteers safe, striving to hit fundraising goals, reimagining pre-planned events, adopting new technology, and more. At the same time, perhaps you are feeling more isolated at home and compelled to help and connect with the community. Even if you’ve never served on a nonprofit board, don’t underestimate how much you can bring to an organization. Nonprofits are looking to connect with passionate, smart community members who want to contribute and give back.
Being on a board is a volunteer service to the organization and its mission.
And it’s inherently a big responsibility. Fiduciaries of the organization, board directors work together to ensure the nonprofit advances its mission with sound, ethical governance practices and effective financial management for short- and long-term success. They’re passionate about the mission and believe in the impact of the work on their community.
Nonprofit board service brings many benefits for you, too.
Even in a virtual environment, you can make new, meaningful connections with others involved with the organization—especially if you roll up your sleeves and dig into the work. You can also learn new skills and practice wearing different leadership hats. A strong board has a broad array of skills, experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives—meaning you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from a new network of specialists. This is a rewarding opportunity to bring not only your invaluable expertise, but also your curiosity to learn—even if board service, nonprofit financials, and fundraising best practices are new to you.
Here at Camden National Bank, we recently announced our 2020 Leaders & Luminaries Awardees—five amazing nonprofit directors who went above and beyond in service of their organizations. To learn more about what it’s like to be on a nonprofit board, hear from our 2020 award winners:
Jackie Studer, Classical Uprising
“What I love most about my Board service is undoubtedly the people – both the people I work with on the Board and in the organization and also the people in the communities we serve. Through Board service I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with kind, generous, talented and hardworking people who want nothing more than to use their gifts to make life richer and more beautiful for our community. The opportunity to work closely with such an incredible group of individuals on a common vision has been inspiring and fulfilling, and the joy of seeing the results of our efforts in enriching our community has been immeasurable.”
Evelyn Kieltyka, Medical Care Development
“Serving on MCD’s Board of Directors, an organization that I admire and so respect the work of the staff both domestically and internationally, is one of the most rewarding and valuable decisions I’ve made. I’ve continued to serve on the board because I believe strongly in MCD’s mission and it aligns with my values. I have enjoyed bringing my experience and expertise to the board to help advance MCD’s global impact. Yet I have gained so much more in terms of corporate governance skills, strategic planning and decisions, and as board chair I’ve had an opportunity to develop my leadership and interpersonal skills.”
Doris Dennee, The Iris Network
“I have been inspired by the many amazing people at The Iris Network with whom I have had the chance to work. Fellow board members are a talented and diverse group who are willing to donate their time and share their expertise and experience, in spite of their already busy lives. The administrative and program staff at Iris are incredibly talented and dedicated. It is most rewarding to see the difference they make in the lives of the blind and visually impaired in Maine. Serving on The Iris Network board has deepened my understanding of the challenges faced by those with disabilities, but also heightened my appreciation of their abilities and potential.”
Ray Gerbi, Pejepscot History Center
“Throughout both my professional career and my personal life I have been a board member with a variety of not-for-profit organizations, ranging from regional healthcare groups to very small local businesses. What I have found rewarding in each and every experience is a sense of satisfaction in being able to contribute my time and experience to help those organizations achieve their missions and to grow and prosper. I have always considered the skills and knowledge I have obtained to be something to share to help others in whatever way I could.
Professionally, participating in board activities provided me with an opportunity to meet individuals with whom I could consult on a variety of matters not necessarily within my immediate skill set. It also allowed me to learn about other businesses and organizations with which a synergy could be developed for mutual benefit.
On a very personal level, being a board member has allowed me to meet new and interesting people who share my values and reinforce the reasons why I find it important to contribute to these organizations. When my wife and I relocated to Brunswick we were looking for ways to become integrated into the community, and volunteering with the Pejepscot History Center has allowed us to both enjoy becoming immersed in local history and historical artifacts, and to meet and work with many wonderful, equally dedicated people.”
Not sure where to get started?
It’s understandable that the prospect of joining a board—and the process to get there—can be intimidating. But once you’ve identified an organization or two that compel you, there are ways to dip your toes in and get acquainted before seeking a seat on the board (and this is, in fact, a smart thing to do—so you don’t overcommit before knowing exactly what you’ve signed up for).
Ideas for getting involved:
- Subscribe to the organization’s newsletter and follow their social media channels for regular, ongoing updates
- Sign up to volunteer (Ideally something you can do on a regular basis so you can begin to form relationships at the organization)
- Attend an event (even virtually!)
- Ask about the board committee structure, and see if it’s possible to join a committee (many organizations have committees that include public members who aren’t board directors)
- Meet with the Executive Director or staff members to learn more about the organization’s board governance process and what kinds of skills or experiences the board may be looking to add
Don’t forget to tap into your network. Seek ideas from friends, coworkers, professional connections, and family members who have served on a nonprofit board. How did they get involved with their organization, and what guidance might they have for you as you’re starting out? Chances are, they’ll be thrilled to hear you’re interested in getting involved, and they’ll have some great first-hand advice for you to find the right fit.
This blog content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
©2021 Camden National Bank. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.