Is Your Non Profit Board Focusing on the Younger Generations — the “X’s” and “Y’s”?
One year ago, in one of my articles, I asked some very pointed questions: What is your non profit organization’s game plan for recruiting and retaining new board members? Who in the community are you approaching to fill the pipeline for a steady stream of quality board members — and future donors?
I recently made a presentation to a group of board members from a statewide and international non profit organization. During the first half of my presentation I focused on “to-do’s and must-do’s” for a Board Member. I then moved on “to-do’s and must-do’s” for the entire Board. During that part of the presentation, I asked the attendees the following question: “Who is forty years old or less? Please raise your hand.” The results were sobering. Let’s just say only a couple of hands went up. It was déjà vu. It was confirmation of what I wrote about last year and continually talk about — whenever someone lends me an ear.
It’s pretty safe to say that every board member in your non profit organization knows numerous people who represent both the “X” and the “Y” generations. Your non profit organization needs to put a full court press on talking to those individuals and inviting them to your functions. The board of directors can’t afford to let membership skew solely to the boomer side and not have younger members coming into the organization.
Let me also suggest just one place where you can begin recruiting for new board members. I’m sure there are colleges and universities in your area where you can approach the Placement Officers and explain to them your plan to grow the organization and the composition of the board.
Your plan, as you outline it to the Placement Officer, is to find young-and-upcoming individuals to become board members. You’re looking for the Placement Officer’s recommendations of very good students, very good citizens, and potential leaders. By adding seniors, recent graduates or graduate students, the non profit organization will be providing a living classroom by teaching leadership skills, creating community involvement and awareness, learning friend-and-fund raising, as well as receiving outstanding “real life” on-the-job-training.
And just as importantly, the addition of people the Placement Officer recommends will help breathe new life into an organization and challenge it to take an inward look at itself and ask “WHY” on many organizational issues. It’s exciting how your organization can re-invent itself while becoming better than ever with the addition of new, young members on the board.
Oh, yes, did I also mention that this life experience and board training will also look very good on the student’s resume. This is a win-win-win situation for the student/young board member, the institution of higher learning, and, of course, the organization. Actually, there’s another “win” — the community you serve benefits from this methodology.
Let’s briefly review some basic characteristics of each group which I shared in the article a year ago:
Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980): flexible, value work/life balance, technologically adept, independent, resourceful and self-sufficient. *
Generation Y (born in mid-1980’s): tech-savvy, family-centric, achievement-oriented, and team-oriented.*
Any coach or general manager of a sports team knows the importance of building a strong bench, having a strong farm team, and creating as many pipelines of recruiting as possible. The same scenario applies to non profit boards. Remember the additional perks of recruiting the younger generations — they too will provide additional pipelines to increasing membership and revenue in their spheres of influence.
by Joseph R. John