As a young professional looking to advance your career and develop new skills, a great opportunity that you may not have considered is nonprofit board service. Here are four reasons why nonprofit board service is a terrific opportunity for professional growth:

  • First, board service allows you to learn new skills outside of your current professional role before you need them. Serving on the right board can help you get key professional experience. In turn, you can highlight those accomplishments and projects when you interview for your next job or that key promotion.
  • Secondly, serving on a nonprofit board improves your emotional intelligence skills and your ability to collaborate with others. Notably, board service takes place in a unique space requiring a blend of active listening, creative thinking, and strategic planning.
  • Thirdly, nonprofit board service will allow you to learn from other board members. When you serve on a board as a young professional, you can learn from others with more experience and wisdom. Remember: If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.
  • Finally, nonprofit board service allows you to expand your professional network. When you join a board with members from diverse backgrounds, you will gain access to new professional networks. Those new connections can help make key introductions or referrals to give you access to new opportunities and partnerships.

While nonprofit board service is a great opportunity for professional development, it also comes with important responsibilities. Here are three key questions to consider before committing to serve on a board:

  • Can I make the time commitment required to be an active, committed board member?  Make sure that you have the time to be an effective fundraiser, advocate, and ambassador before agreeing to serve on a board. You should ask questions about this as you consider joining the board of an organization.
  • Am I passionate about the mission and vision of this organization?  Unsurprisingly, board members are more engaged when they are invested in the mission and vision of the organization. Ask questions about the core values and mission when deciding whether a nonprofit is a good match.
  • Am I comfortable with my level of experience and skills to be an effective board member?  When you have the right skills and experience, you will be a useful addition to a nonprofit board. To prepare yourself, you can complete a training program for prospective board members.  Volunteer Connect and Get On Board are two high-quality options for board training that are available in New Jersey.

Jeff Key is the founder of Nfinity Enterprises, a consulting firm that provides board governance, website design, data analytics, and technology consulting services to nonprofits and small businesses.  He also is a previous board co-chair for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of New Jersey and currently serves as a board member for the Center for Non-Profits.