Eligible Young Board Members (EYBMs): Nonprofits take notice!

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Eligible Young Board Members (EYBMs): Nonprofits take notice!

Posted by Jessica Griffin in Board Matters
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 3:25pm


  Posted by Jessica Griffin in Board Matters

I chair the board of an all-volunteer nonprofit organization  that approaches board building in an uncommon way. We put out an open call for applications to the members of our network (young professionals working in the nonprofit sector) once a year and select board members to fill open positions from the resulting pool of applicants.

Over the past two weeks, I have interviewed several candidates – all age 35 or younger – interested in taking on board and leadership positions.  As I was listening to these candidates’ stories, opinions, and passions, I was reminded of the great value that young people  can add to nonprofit boards.   All of the candidates I interviewed are educated, well-connected self-starters who bring experience in fundraising, community organizing, financial analysis, and evaluation.  What’s more, they are “Eligible Young Board Members” (EYBMs for short), who are actively seeking opportunities to join a board and make a commitment to a nonprofit organization.
Consider,  “EYBM 1 – age 30,” who has a bachelor’s degree in accounting, eight years of combined work experience in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and now serves as founder and executive director of a membership association serving Africans and African Americans.

Or, “EYBM 2 – age 35,” who has been employed at a nationally renowned education organization for seven years and has moved up the ladder to become a member of the senior leadership team, currently serving in a position that was created specifically for her.  She just finished a four-year term serving on the board of an all-volunteer arts organization.

“EYBM 3 – age 28” spent nearly eight years working in the arts world, is a published poet and composer, and now serves as the director of development for a legal advocacy organization.  She has met or exceeded all budget goals in the first six months of employment. In spite of often working 10- to 12-hour days, she has never taken a break from volunteering.

As spectacular as they are, all of the 50 candidates we interview will not be the best fit for our board’s current needs.  That means many will remain Eligible Young Board Members who are actively seeking board service opportunities!

So, I suggest all nonprofit leaders interested in adding young people to your organization’s board start cultivating and recruiting these EYBMs and the many like them before they are wooed by other boards that recognize what a tremendous catch they are. And if you are a member of the EYBM community, I encourage you to put your name in the ring and have conversations with those serving on the boards you would like to join. They are as likely to be attracted to your enthusiasm and passion and as impressed by your experiences and skills as I am.

Board Life Matters is a national sounding board designed to inspire and engage the next generation in nonprofit board service. 

Board Life Matters is a BoardSource project. BoardSource is dedicated to advancing the public good by building exceptional nonprofit boards and inspiring board service.



Mark Doyon
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