I’m a VP at an association, and I want to move up. I’ve been told I’ll be a more attractive CEO candidate if I have some volunteer board service on my resume. I already work for a nonprofit; why do I need to join a nonprofit board?
Nonprofit board service will definitely make you a stronger CEO candidate. Search Committees are comprised primarily of board members—a group that will be particularly interested in evidence that you understand nonprofits from the board’s perspective. Board service also sends the message that you care about a cause in the way that Search Committee members care about their association. Board leadership, should you go that far, is an excellent symbol of your readiness to lead an organization.
Board participation will benefit you more immediately as well. It will be an opportunity to gain insight into the politics, diplomacy, and distinctions between governance and management that makes a well-rounded nonprofit leader. And you may well meet other board members who are valuable to your network.
Don’t just join a board to get a name on your resume though. Board service is a serious and demanding commitment. Choose something you feel passionate about, and be prepared to fulfill every requirement of the board job description. The experience will be great practice for your becoming a CEO.
Published in Associations Now, August 2006