The nonprofit sector plays a vital role in providing services for needs that are not otherwise sufficiently addressed. As a result, nonprofit activities generate incredible impact on communities and the economy.
Public charities are required to have a board of directors—a governing body that is responsible for providing programmatic, financial and risk oversight. A board’s role is to ensure the welfare and direction of the organization and to hold the organization in “trust” on behalf of the public.
While stewardship is both a legal and moral responsibility, it is not compensated. In fact, nonprofit board members are expected to make charitable contributions to support the very organizations they oversee. This is part and parcel of the charity sector as it exists in the US.
Another element within this board oversight and governance construct that is becoming increasingly prevalent is the idea of auxiliary bodies that serve as an extension beyond governing boards to help support and further the mission of the nonprofit organization. One such auxiliary body is the concept of a non-governing Junior Board (young adults typically between 25 – 40 years old), which provides additional sweat equity for governing board responsibilities, creates more ambassadors and advocates, and can help raise funds and awareness for the organization.
The design of a Junior Board may differ too when it comes to the underlying role within the organization. The Junior Board does not have a true fiduciary responsibility to the organization; rather, it is an advisory group formed to bring new ideas and vibrancy to an organization and to help steer the mission and vision.
The boards may be labeled "young" or "junior," but they garner a great deal of respect within an organization and are considered some of the most essential relationships to cultivate. Ultimately, Junior Boards are seen as the rising or next leaders in the organization's governance.
10 Reasons to Consider Joining a Junior Board
Assuming you are not ready to join a governing board (not yet having sufficient seniority or leadership experience, limited financial ability, still developing your network, etc.), there are many benefits to joining a Junior Board:
1. Immerse yourself in a cause you care about
2. Meet people who share similar passion who you may not have met otherwise (enhance your
3. Hone skills and learn new ones (personal and professional enrichment)
4. Gain a better understanding of group dynamics through participating in a working body
5. Learn about and actively fundraise
6. Serve as an ambassador
7. Get a window into the work of a board of directors
8. Become prepared for board service down the road (familiarize yourself with good governance
practices and how boards operate)
9. Get exposure to leadership, strategic oversight, collaboration, influence, and negotiation
10. Observe how nonprofits work—even if you have a job in a different sector, industry, or function, this can help you round out your exposure and experience
What are the expectations for joining a Junior Board?
It is often said, encouraged, and suggested that board members give their “time, talent and treasure” to an organization as part of their expected contributions. This holds true not just for governing boards, but for Junior Boards too. These gifts can be the difference between an organization growing, evolving, and having the ability to sustain its operations or ultimately failing and closing its doors. When you examine these gifts in greater detail, they aren’t just about clocking volunteer hours, sharing a particular expertise or providing monetary support.
Young or rising leaders provide intellectual capital and insight from a diverse point of view and often bring the organization different or new perspectives. The organization benefits from the young leaders’ motivation, personal and professional networks, viewpoints, and access to new funding.
The expected time commitment is typically a minimum of one year, and often runs throughout the organization’s fiscal year (for some nonprofits this runs from July 1 – June 30, for others, it is the calendar year). Most Junior Boards will also look to foster members who are interested in multiyear commitments. While one year is typically the minimum commitment, it is important to understand the cadence with which Junior Boards convene (e.g., monthly, quarterly, etc.), as well as the time required to accomplish goals set out by the board over a set number of years.
Many Junior Boards will have members join various committees focused on different objectives based on their “talents” or interests. The most common committees are those focused on development and events and may in some cases also extend to programs. While Junior Board committees may support the work of the governing board, Junior Boards will have their own committee mandates and overarching “raison d’être.” These committees may require time outside of routine meetings, so it is important to reflect on how to best offer both talent and time. Committing talents and skills to a specific committee can be a great way to help the board accomplish certain objectives, which also feeds into a personal sense of reward and accomplishment.
In addition to time and talent, Junior Board members may be encouraged (or required) to give “treasure”. Most boards have what is known as a "give/get" commitment, where board members are responsible for contributing a certain amount of money each fiscal year, and this often applies to Junior Boards as well. Junior Board members can "give" (donate) this amount of money and/or they can "get"(solicit) it through contributions to the organization.
Giving your time or services alone is a dated practice. Flexibility in how this policy is administered may vary at each organization, but generally, a "give/get" policy allows organizations to ask board members to meaningfully contribute financially in addition to their participation and strive for reaching 100% participation in meeting the give/get requirement. Funders also typically ask if there is 100% board participation in fundraising (both "give" and "get" components), as this aids the organization in receiving critical funds from local and national funders.
Whether you have been invited to join a Junior Board, or you are proactively seeking out such opportunities, there are key considerations to help you determine if it’s the right fit, a worthwhile opportunity/endeavor and whether you are ready to take on this responsibility.
Some Junior Board candidates will be driven to work with an organization whose mission and purpose they admire, and others may be more drawn to an organization that is facing challenges, irrespective of mission. The volunteer sector is vast, and whether a well-oiled machine, an organization in turnaround or something in between, Junior Boards are for those ready to immerse themselves more directly into charitable leadership, for personal growth, to be of service and for a glimpse into moving a social change inspiration forward.
Content from UBS Advanced Planning Group.
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Exp.: 11/30/2022, IS2106362
This content is contributed by Riley A. Stephenson, Wealth Strategy Associate, Decision Point Wealth Consulting, UBS Finacial Services Inc. and Donis Smith, DFP, CDFA, First Vice President - Wealth Management, Decision Point Wealth Consulting, UBS Financial Services Inc.
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