Sharing Your Gifts While Serving on a Nonprofit Board
Congratulations and welcome to your nonprofit board.
You were selected to be a board member because you are possessed with gifts and talents like no other – and you can make a considerable difference in the impact that your nonprofit organization will make on your community.
You may be wondering about your role. Will you need to show up at board meetings regularly or once in awhile? Will you be expected to raise money? Will there be “homework”? What else will you be asked to do, and will you have the time to do it?
What you are about to discover is that instead of this board work taking up all your personal resources (which is what many new board members fear), it will surprisingly gift you with many exciting experiences and opportunities. You will make new friends, gain a fresh perspective, solve personal problems, reach personal goals… in short, your board experience has the potential to change your life… and the more gifts you give, the more you will receive.
Not sure how to get started? Take a look at the gifts you have to offer, and find a way to give that works best for you.
The Gift of Money
Most often, a key responsibility of every nonprofit board member is to donate or raise money for the organization. If you aren’t personally wealthy, this can be a daunting assignment that will teach you a lot about your attitudes toward money in your own life. One way to get comfortable with fundraising is to not to think of money as limited or as a unit of currency. Think of it instead as the physical representation of your community’s desires for the future. People vote with their money, and they use their money to say, “Yes!” to the world they want to live in. Find the people who want the world your nonprofit is working to build. Learn to become a storyteller of the work and mission. Find places to tell that story and make your ask with confidence, knowing that all will benefit from the success your nonprofit will achieve. Be amazed as the money easily follows your passion.
The Gift of Time
Time is a powerful investment that will yield an astonishing number of gifts for you as well as your nonprofit. Board meeting attendance is just scratching the surface of what is possible for you to discover with your time. Find a way to drop in and visit programs and learn how they operate. Talk to staff about their challenges and successes. Volunteer to represent your nonprofit organization at community events. Meet someone who is benefiting from the work of your nonprofit and listen to their story. This immersion in your nonprofit’s day-to-day activities will not only make you a better board member, it will change you personally at depth.
The Gift of Voice
As a newbie on the board of directors, you may be tempted to be quiet during your first board meetings, waiting until you understand the dynamics of things before jumping in with your thoughts and opinions. But your voice is needed from day one. Often the “newbie” or “outsider” perspective is exactly the voice that is needed to break through routine ways of doing things and to help your board come at a problem from a new angle. And be sure to use your voice to talk about your nonprofit board work everywhere you go in community – at work, at your children’s social events, with family, and when networking for business. You have access to key and difficult-to-reach audiences that your nonprofit desperately needs to connect with for success. And the credibility you have with your close friends, family, and colleagues makes you an extremely powerful messenger for the cause.
The Gift of Prayer
Your quiet moments alone, when you pray, meditate, or spend time in contemplation, are just as important to your work on a nonprofit board as any other effort you will make on its behalf. This is the time when you set aside the day-to-day business and distractions of this role, and really think about and focus on the people you are serving. In these quiet moments, you connect with them, and remember that their well-being is tied to yours, and yours to them. You visualize all the connections that exist in the world that can help you make change possible, just waiting in the wings to be called into service. You find peace in envisioning a world where your nonprofits’ work is done, and all is well. Your time in prayer and meditation will center you on what matters, and infuse you with new solutions you might have missed otherwise.
Every gift you offer, no matter how small, is essential for big change. And every gift you give will be returned to you and more. Welcome to the great nonprofit board member adventure of a lifetime!