Prepare the Nonprofit Boards of Tomorrow

Engage young board membersAs your organization arms its current board, also keep an eye on the board of tomorrow. Aid the education of youth and prepare them for possible board involvement later. 

The 2011/12 National Survey of Children’s Health, results found that 78.8% of youths ages 12 to 17 are involved in community service in some capacity. This suggests that younger generations are seeking civic engagement.

Yet, in a study conducted by The Bridgespan Group, 594 nonprofit leaders disagreed with the statement: “Our organization is highly effective in developing a strong internal and external pipeline of future leaders.”

Nonprofit organizations have the unique opportunity to engage with younger audiences to develop, and nurture, lifelong supporters. 

It’s never too early to begin future-proofing your nonprofit board; here’s how.

Invest in Youth Programs and Engagement

By providing involvement opportunities in philanthropy, governance and general community outreach, your organization can empower young leaders. Hands-on learning and experience imprints young minds, helping them understand the importance of nonprofit and charity work.

Embrace youth involvement to provide your organization with more diverse points of views and a wider volunteer base.

Investing time and energy into youth programs can also yield benefits for organizations that are worried about long-term sustainability and vitality of goals and mission. Encourage youth groups to adopt your organization’s values now with the hope they will continue to support your mission as they age.

Implement Junior or Young Advisory Boards

Some organizations have already successfully begun influencing youths toward a better understanding of board processes and governance.

Most notably, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania allow girls age 14 and up to serve on the board as “Girl Advisors to the Board of Directors.” Through this program, girls have a voice in organizational decisions and the ability to influence agendas, actions and implementation.

As stated In Nonprofit Quarterly: “These girls hold the same position as the adult delegates, and are expected to apply the same diligence to studying the issues before voting.”

Like the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, create direct serve opportunities for teens to grow with your organization. In addition to programs targeting youth, add leadership groups for college students and/or a Young Advisory Board for young professionals. This way, individuals have a path to follow to progress into your nonprofit’s leadership roles.

Also, consider inviting members of Young Advisory Boards or student groups to attend board meetings. This gives them an insider’s look into governance opportunities, and demonstrates that you value their opinions and ideas.

Create an Attractive Environment for the Next Generation

Upcoming generations are a more tech-savvy demographic than their predecessors. Constant exposure to technology has led to a lifestyle of being ‘always-on’ and hyper-connected.

With these generational differences come both challenges and opportunities. For one, this generation will bring innovative thought processes, solutions and ideas with fresh sets of eyes. However, due to their attachment to technology, organizations may need to adjust their current processes to entice participation.

To prepare for your future board, start thinking now about how technology can make communication and collaboration easier among members. Tomorrow’s leaders will expect the connectedness they experience today in their personal lives to carry over into business and volunteer experiences. 

Better connect with, and prepare, the boards of tomorrow, and arm your organization with a strong pipeline of talented and dedicated members.

What is your organization’s stance on early involvement?

As you engage your future board, don’t forget to engage your current board. Board engagement is vital to the success of board agendas and missions:

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