Nominate for an Alum for Board Member of the Month
Today’s post originally appeared on Points of Light Blog on October 15, 2012.
Serving as a board of director for any organization is a scary thing. When I joined my first board I had the assumption that this would be easy work. There wasn’t much to it… you write a check, attend a few meetings and make a decision or two. I could not have been more wrong!
Making a commitment to provide fiscal, legal and organizational oversight and governance is critical work. It is the type of service that requires training and ongoing education to ensure that all active members of a board are up to date on changing laws and policies. Active members also must be willing to make the hard decisions to ensure the success of the organization even in the face of opposition. Although I was still very much overwhelmed by what I had agreed to, I was even more determined to gain the skills necessary to be an effective and viable member of the board.
My first board experience was with the Metro Atlanta Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums. This was pretty special considering I am an ALUM! I was eager to give back to an organization that sincerely provided a tangible and clear cut path to my first professional experience in nonprofit as a Program Manager for HandsOn Atlanta in their Schools-based AmeriCorps program.
During my Atlanta Chapter AmeriCorps board experience, I learned valuable lessons that I take with me to my current and will take to my future board of directors service that I render. I became immensely aware of being confident in the skill set that I possess and learning how to offer that as my level of expertise.Having AmeriCorps Alums be my first board experience also took some of the pressure off to feel to as if I had to know everything. This was an organization that I was passionate about and it provided an opportunity to learn as I grow. This board service afforded me the opportunity to be more than sure that having a career in nonprofit was something that intentionally wanted. It was through this particular board service that I grew in my leadership style, learned how to fundraise and what was most effective in our market area in terms of marketing and networking to grow the number of Alums who were active in our chapter.
As I continued to grow in leadership, I learned of a program sponsored by the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. Their Volunteer Involvement Program allowed me to learn what a board is, what they do, what they are responsible for and that there are various types of boards. Serving on a fundraising board is very different from a board that provides governance and oversight. And even more different are individuals who serve on Advisory boards. Then you have organizations that have boards that are a hybrid of a few. These are important factors to consider when being recruited to serve on a board of directors. I highly value my experience during the United Way V.I.P. program. It allowed me to be very clear about how to proceed in my board service.
My education was furthered even more this past September when I attended the BoardSource Leadership Forum in Chicago, IL. To sit and hear from expert and professionals who have dedicated their professional careers to developing and educating board of directors was an enlightening experience. I say amongst some of the highest performing board of directors in the nonprofit sector and I was able to walk away with a wealth of knowledge. When my next opportunity arises to sit on a board, I know now to also interview them to ensure that they are a high performer and functioning as an effective board that is getting things done!
Between my personal and professional experience with boards, I was thrilled when the opportunity was presented to work with BoardSource. Points of Light and BoardSource know the importance of boards in ensuring that the missions of organizations are realized to their fullest potential. And for so many smaller and community based organizations the work of their board is sometimes unnoticed on a national scale. That is why I am so excited about the launch of the Board Member of the Month award presented by Points of Light and BoardSource! It is a chance for organizations to applaud and appreciate the work of their board members. I can think of so many deserving board members (many of whom serve on their local AmeriCorps Alums boards) and I am sure you can as well. Now is your chance to nominate them to become a Board Member of the Month. If you would like more information on nominating a board member, please visit here.
KaCey Venning serves as the Manager, Cause Programs. She is excited about encouraging people to become more active in their communities. She’ll be part of our panel of speakers for our October Professional Development Webinar on Identifying and Effectively Utilizing a Mentor at noon ET. Register here.