On Wednesday Rosetta Thurman and I hosted our fourth twitter chat for young nonprofit professionals, with YNPN-DC as a special cohost!  The topic was board service: why it is beneficial and how young nonprofit professionals can find board positions. Once again it was fast paced conversation with lots of great information and stories being shared.  Here are a couple of responses to the questions:

Q1: Have you considered joining a board?  Why/Why not?

@KristenEJ: I think board service is a great way to give back, but getting on boards can be intimidating sometimes
@eglouise: Absolutely. I currently serve on the board of a professional group and would love to serve a local nonprofit as well
@dan_blakemore: I have considered it, mostly to share my #fundraising knowledge with other orgs
@ynpndc: Key reasons may be – bd svc seems inaccessible, young leaders feel unqualified, they are not sure what is involved in bd svc

Q2: How can board service be beneficial to your professional and personal growth?

@CrookdRiverWmn Being board member makes you a better staffperson & vice versa. Learn finance, governance, leadership skills
@rosettathurman: Board service allowed me to learn how to build consensus among differing viewpoints/worldviews – really tough, but rewarding.
@3manypuppies: Board service is a great way to lead projects when you might not be high enough in the hierarchy to do it at your day job
@gassnerotting: Where do I begin? As a nonprofit executive recruiter, board service is one of the first things I seek in young professionals
@gassnerotting: Board service imparts wisdom, leadership, broader network, advanced skills, & demonstrates hunger, ambition, mission dedication
@3manypuppies: Board service is a great way to lead projects when you might not be high enough in the hierarchy to do it at your day job
@eglouise: Boards give opportunity to work w/ new people & encounter new ideas. They can also get you out of your orgs silo.

Q3: Why is it important to have young voices on a board?

@iaagustin: One more important thing is that younger nonprofit professionals today have drive, energy & enthusiasm
@youthseeksjob: As a voice thats young & new, im not embroiled in politics yet – helps others regain perspective
@rosettathurman: Young #nonprofit professionals in particular, have on-the-ground knowledge that board members from business world don’t have.
@Maria_G: Board I’m on has gen. diversity written into bylaws i.e. a 50+ member. This leads to great conversations & dif. perspectives

Q4: What are some important characteristics to look for when joining a board?

@CrookdRiverWmn: The best boards are active and work. Some get stuck in debating resolutions & shirk governance. Find a working board! Gah!
@jessica_journey: If its your first board, see if another board member is willing to mentor you!

@ajlovesya: I like boards that engage the community they serve & participate in orgs events. That’s why I love the board I serve

@coien: From past experience, I’ve learned that I’ll have a hard time with a board that’s way more talk than action. @youthseeksjob: t’s about a good fit: reciprocal needs (win/win), respect, openness to ideas – and some shared basic values.

@snotforprofit: It’s important to know your legal responsibilities if you sit on a charitable board – there are ramifications.

@snotforprofit: Don’t sit on a board if you aren’t willing to fundraise — Don’t be THAT board member.

That last tweet sparked a wonderful conversation on the role of fundraising in being a board member.  Given the importance and responsibility of raising money for an organization, how can young nonprofit professionals who dont have fundraising experience or access to money “give or get?”  Participants had some great tips to keep in mind:

@CrookdRiverWmn: Remember that most boards are for small organizations. Big orgs with fancy fundraising balls & corporate contacts are minority.
@gtak: Board service – no fundraising experience & limited disposable income – offer to help research and write a grant proposal
@iaagustin: There’s more to a board than fundraising. Expertise in cause (ie stats & issues) & connections (new collaborations) r imp as well

I’ve written a longer response to this question with some more suggestions.

Q5:  How do you find out about board service opportunities?

@gassnerotting Dont be too shy to call the org whose board you want to serve. Its like manna from heaven for overworked ED

@thefriendraiser: seek out local leadership programs that train for service. we have a few in #CLT // I did this one http://bit.ly/9BNtkF

@snotforprofit: Canadians wanting to join a NFP board? Try http://www.altruvest.org formerly Board Match.

@ynpndc: Bridgestar also has board postings. http://www.bridgestar.org/Home.aspx

I also recommend BoardNetUSA and your local Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) chapter.  In fact, YNPN-DC and YNPN-NYC are looking for board members!

If you couldn’t join the chat, check out the conversation by doing a twitter search. If you want answers to specific questions include A1, A2, etc in your twitter search with #ynpchat. Stay tuned for our next twitter chat July 7th at 12pm EST!