From a very young age, I was taught that we each have an incredible opportunity to create positive change. And this belief in my own inherent power to put my best skills and talents to work in the service of creating a better tomorrow – let’s just say it’s addictive!
There are so many ways you can create change. Volunteering, fundraising, or serving on a community board.
Since my early twenties, I’ve served on a number of boards. Boards of organisations I’ve helped establish, my industry association board, as well as a national women’s association board.
These board roles have been AMAZING. They’ve taught me about the world, about leadership, boards, and positive social change. I’ve met the best (worldchanging) people – broadening and diversifying my networks across Australia and the world. And most importantly, it gives me a voice. It’s allowed me to advocate for those less fortunate, and helped me make a real difference in my community.
Are you keen to create meaningful change in the world, learn new skills, and broaden your network? If so, then serving on a community board might be for you!
What it means to be a board director – and why diversity matters
Board directors are voluntary positions appointed to support a community organisation to achieve its mission.
The Not-For-Profit sector is going through huge changes! And boards are on the hunt for a diverse range of directors to seek and prepare for new futures. You might think a board position would be just another item on a never-ending to-do list. But it can also be an energising personal and professional development experience.
In fact, we NEED you!
We need diverse thinkers and leaders on boards!
It’s fair to say we are living in highly uncertain times, whether it’s politics, the economy, or our environment. Now more than ever, we need thoughtful, creative, values-led leaders to step up and contribute to creating a better world for all.
How I give back on a board
I currently chair the 100 Women Board. 100 Women is a giving circle igniting everyday people as philanthropists. The board also raises funds to empower disadvantaged women and girls locally and globally.
Aside from the incredible impact we make through our grants, I have gained so much by giving back. I get to meet the most amazing people. I’m learning about the issues facing women and girls. And I get to put my skills to work for a cause that I’m passionate about.
But aside from all this, at a foundational level, giving is important in my life. I want to live a well-rounded life. I want to enjoy work that makes a difference, be involved in my family’s life, eat well and exercise, and contribute to society.
Why get involved on a community board?
1. Be inspired and energised by a cause larger than yourself
Involvment can be hugely energising. It can be a humbling experience to know that your volunteering is making a difference to others, whether it be the homeless, elderly, disadvantaged children, animals, or the environment.
In today’s society, it can be all too easy to fall into the narcissistic trap of selfies and social media pages dedicated to showing our most glorified moments in life. We can feel entitled to live a life of hedonistic pleasure without a care in the world for anyone else.
If you’re reading this post, you and I are one of the luckiest people in the world. With a roof over your head, food in the fridge, and money in the bank, we have the opportunity to do work that is meaningful. Not everyone has this opportunity. Not everyone is so lucky.
We can turn a blind eye to the challenges of the disadvantaged. Or we can do our part to lead a fair and equitable life. The beauty is that it will inspire and energise you in return.
2. Broaden your skills and knowledge
You can contribute your skills and knowledge and expand on them by using them in a different context. Boards oversee a range of issues such as strategy, governance, marketing, fundraising, performance, and finances. This can give you exposure to new strategies, tools, and resources.
In fact, sitting on a board can be one of the BEST leadership development experiences you can have!
It’s definitely no simulation. It’s real and practical. And most of the time, it’s challenging to achieve results within the constraints that exist. There is no better opportunity to improve your skills and expertise.
3. Watch your networks expand
Any professional is looking for opportunities to build their networks. And sitting on a board is a great way of doing this.
You’ll develop deep relationships with your fellow board directors who will come from different industries, backgrounds, and experiences. You have the opportunity to connect regularly at board meetings, events, and one-on-one to get to know them better.
You will also expand your networks through the various functions of a board. This includes fundraising, events, dealing with the media, and stakeholder engagement.
4. Enhance your reputation
Appointment to a board is a real privilege.
It’s a privilege to serve the community and contribute to making it better in some way.
Through this journey, you will become passionate about an issue such as improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged young people. Or providing housing for the homeless. Or saving precious natural environments for the community. Often, these issues are multi-faceted. And you will learn more about the real underlying causes and ways to solve the issue. You will become an advocate for the cause.
This gives you a wonderful opportunity to share your experiences with your business networks. Share with your suppliers, clients, and networks about the cause and deepen your relationships. By being an advocate, you are inadvertently improving your own reputation too – win, win!
Hold up – before you join a board!
Board positions are not to be taken on lightly. You must be willing to make a commitment of usually between 5 – 15 hours per month. You must also choose carefully which board to join and perform your due diligence before accepting any position.
Due diligence aside, volunteering as a board director can be hugely fulfilling. Whether it be on a local community organisation, your industry association board, a government board or an advocacy organisation, the benefits can be rich and wide-ranging.
As board directors, you are shaping a positive future for all.
Now over to you: How will you contribute your time, networks, expertise, and donations to create a better world for all in the coming year? Join the conversation here.