Why be a Nonprofit Board Member

Three reasons a business owner should serve on a nonprofit board.

If you’re a person running a small business you’ve likely been asked to serve on some committee or board in your community.  It’s also likely that you’ve asked yourself “why would I do that, don’t I have enough to do and enough problems of my own?”  I understand.  My father-in-law was a printer and used to create small calling cards and quote cards on the excess paper at the edge of print runs.  My favorite card, which I still have fifty years later, was “When you’re up to your neck (his actually used a different part of the anatomy) in alligators, it’s hard to remember you started out to drain the swamp.”

So, I get it.  I’ve run small business since 1980 and I realize that every business owner would love to have one more day in a week to get everything done.  However, since the early 80’s I’ve also served on a wide variety of committees and nonprofit boards in our local community, regionally, and nationally.  Why would I do that, and why should you?  Here are three key reasons:

1)  You bring a perspective that is valuable to the board and to the community the nonprofit serves.

A business owner faces many of the same issues that nonprofits face — staffing, acquiring resources, marketing, etc.  Other folks in the community bring other perspectives about the needs of the community and bring other talents.  You have distinctive skills and talents that only you can bring.

2) You’ll learn a lot.

Because each of the issues you face with a nonprofit is similar to a business issue, you’ll not only bring your perspective, but you’ll learn a lot from addressing those issues in a context other than your own business.

3) Your spirits will be lifted.

Nearly every religion and philosophy suggests that it’s better to give than to receive.  That’s not just a moral lesson, it’s a statement about what giving does for oneself.  You’ll feel better about yourself.  You’ll be doing well by doing good.