A board of directors is a group of elected or appointed members who collectively oversee the activities of a company or organization. You’re busy running and managing a business, so why would you dedicate your valuable time to managing another organization's operations? Serving on a board of directors, whether for a nonprofit or a company, provides personal and professional benefits that are worth considering.
Refine Leadership Skills
Depending on your position within the board, you may be responsible for facilitating board meetings. Boards are typically comprised of people from various careers and areas of expertise. While this is very beneficial for the organization to gather different perspectives and ideas, it can also bring contrasting opinions and personality types. You will learn to manage different personalities in an efficient and professional way, which will transfer well to the management of your own business. Even if you don’t initially facilitate meetings, you will get to see high-level decision-making and how others strategically manage the boardroom.
Expand Skill Sets
Typically, board members are required to participate in at least one committee. Some examples of common committees are personnel and finance, program development, marketing, outreach and visibility, and event planning. You may choose to serve on a committee that you are already knowledgeable about, but you might want to consider volunteering on a committee to learn a new skill that you can apply elsewhere. For example, you may be a great project planner, but you can learn more about the monetary operations of an organization if you participate in the finance committee. Take the opportunity to learn skills you may not practice at your own workplace.
Serving on a nonprofit board provides the opportunity for you to interact with individuals who probably aren’t in your normal professional network. It’s likely the board will consist of a diverse array of professional backgrounds. Not only will you meet the other board members, but board-related events will introduce you to others in the community as well as social and professional networks. You’ll discover access to mentors and professional opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t.
Enhance your Public Image
Serving on a board of directors, whether it is for a nonprofit or for another company, will put your name (and your business’s name) out in the public. Your name will likely appear on publications, marketing materials, and the organization’s website. You may need to assist in promoting organization events, putting you directly into the public even further. The experience and name recognition will likely benefit you and your company and may even be a free form of marketing!
These are just a few of the benefits and advantages of serving on a board of directors. The experience of serving on a company board versus a nonprofit board varies slightly. You will want to analyze what you are looking to gain from the experience in deciding which type of board would be the best fit for you, but each will provide long-lasting benefits. While serving on a board is definitely a major time commitment, it is also an opportunity to gain invaluable experience and knowledge that can enhance your personal and professional life.