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Giving Back to Get Ahead

Serving on the board of a nonprofitable organization can be fulfilling on many levels.

Helen Modly, 11/11/2010

You're a busy advisor with many demands on your time. Giving back to your community can not only help you to feel truly successful and fulfilled in your professional life, it can increase your success. If you are not already doing so, consider serving on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization.

Every community has its share of charitable organizations that represent a variety of causes, and they are always looking for qualified individuals to serve on their boards. Your specialized knowledge and credentials are attractive to nonprofits that want to broaden the depth and experience of their board members.

Why should you serve?

People choose to serve on nonprofit boards of directors for many reasons. They may feel a sense of civic duty, they may want to satisfy a need to "give back" through charitable service, or they may have a personal interest in the organization's cause. You should feel passionate about an organization before you commit the time to work with it because, as a board member, you will need to be an advocate to the public in support of its mission and purpose.

As a member of the business community, you will gain exposure and credibility from being associated with a nonprofit organization. Be cautious, you absolutely should not seek to get on a board to actively promote your business--that will cause much more harm than good to your reputation. Be sure to pick an organization that you have some genuine affinity for otherwise your efforts will be seen as insincere.

Joining a board allows you to work with the other community leaders, some of whom may be CPAs or attorneys. You may serve on the investment committee where you can showcase your talents and knowledge by making a valuable contribution when it comes time to do the investment review. You will have the opportunity to meet supporters of the organization at fundraising functions.

Serving on a board should not be considered a marketing activity. It does, however, provide a venue to meet people you would not otherwise meet, and that exposure is invaluable. It also positions you as a person committed to community involvement and service.

What cause should I choose?

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