In today’s faced-paced business world, it’s challenging to find or make the time to serve our communities and give back. With thousands of nonprofit organizations existing on Long Island and in and around New York City, chances are you know someone who serves on a nonprofit Board of Directors. It’s likely that you have also been asked to serve in a similar capacity yourself. Well, should you?
Participating on a nonprofit Board of Directors provides many professional and personal benefits for those who volunteer. Most of the time, these nonprofit Boards do not require their directors to have prior service or knowledge working in the industry that the organization serves. It fosters a great opportunity for businesspeople to be proactive in filling one of these roles, while encouraging their employees to do the same. Nonprofits are major contributors to our regional economies and their success is essential to all of our successes.
Being part of a nonprofit’s Board provides a great leadership opportunity. It allows businesspeople to gain knowledge and experience in an industry that they may have never known much about in their professional career. Being exposed to a nonprofit’s mission, culture, and diversity can make these individuals more well-rounded, and they can bring this knowledge into their current business to expand on industries that business serves. Business owners are realizing more and more that profit cannot be the sole motivating factor for a content and productive life. Integrating traditionally-nonprofit concepts into your own business, besides the inherent altruism of it, can motivate employees, foster a greater sense of teamwork, and give your company a greater purpose to strive for.
Nonprofit organizations also have several partnering networks that may serve similar missions for the community. This can allow the business to increase its access to more professional networks in a variety of industries, further leading to potential clients, future business relationships, or someone to have as a mentor. Having this type of knowledge is also great leverage to help existing clients with questions they may have in their respective industry.
Participating on a Board also provides professionals with another ‘team’ to work with outside of their employment, giving them a chance to learn new skills or enhance current skill sets. Directors may have a variety of tasks to perform, including marketing, recruiting, budgeting and financing, and communicating with the public. These are all valuable skills that parallel with a business’ operations and can contribute to a business’ growth. It also provides an independent sounding board for vetting ideas that you may not be able to discuss with anyone within the walls of your own business.
You may find that you have personal passions that are not being fulfilled in your daily work life. Whether it’s in the arts, the environment, or social services, serving on a nonprofit Board can provide you with an outlet to give back, make a difference, and provide yourself with a diversion from your daily work responsibilities. You may also have a personal connection, through friends or family, to a noble human service cause that you support. Education, mental health, and disabilities affect so many of us both directly and indirectly. Nonprofit providers in these areas suffer from a lack of guidance from engaged business professionals who can truly make a difference in their operations, and in so doing, the lives of so many consumers of their services. Serving on a nonprofit Board gives you the opportunity to make an actual difference, all clichés aside.
We’re all too busy these days. Our vocations can be all-consuming. It’s important to take a step back from time to time and mull over ways that we can be more than just workhorses. Serving on a nonprofit Board can be rewarding in so many ways, and while the time investment may seem overwhelming at times, chances are it pays off many times over when all is said and done.
Matthew Hecker, MS
Matthew is a member of Cerini & Associates’ audit staff where he works with our nonprofit and school district clients. Matthew has experience in internal claims auditing and external auditing, including financial statement audits and pension plan audits. Matthew’s knowledge and experience allow him to provide specific services including systems testing and analysis, internal and external audit functions, and claims audit functions.