Last fall BoardAssist launched a junior board matching pilot program to find junior boards for all the terrific millennials who approach us for board service. The pilot was an immediate success with loads of amazing young professionals approaching us for junior board seats. From the nonprofits we helped, the feedback has been extremely positive. While many were concerned that having a junior board would take a lot of staff time away from other critical functions, what we’ve heard has been wholly to the contrary. Millennials are terrific self-starters that don’t need or want a lot of hand-holding. Give them a task to do, and they will get it done!
Still on the fence about starting a junior board for your nonprofit? We wrote this post to share with you some of the amazing things our own Young Professionals Board has accomplished for us in their first six months of service. We couldn’t be more grateful to them for their energy and all they have done.
For advice on managing your junior board with a minimal amount of time, read our Top 9 Tips for Managing Your Junior Board. And now, read below for details on some of the many ways our own millennial board members have supported BoardAssist.
6 Terrific Ways our Young Professionals Board (YPB) has Supported Us
1. Google AdWords
As most nonprofits now know, Google generously gives qualifying nonprofits up to $120,000 a year to spend in free advertising. But spending this free ad money is not easy unless you really know your way around Google AdWords. For many smaller nonprofits like BoardAssist, that don’t have large social media and tech teams, figuring our how to use this money proves challenging, and its disheartening to leave this valuable gift unspent. BoardAssist’s YPB took on the task of spending this money for us with creative and well-placed ads and we are now spending a much higher percentage of the money allocated to us. In the last 30 days, Adwords accounted for 12% of sessions on the BoardAssist site, a major jump thanks to the YPB.
Are you a charity that offers free music education to inner city kids? Maybe placing your ads so that buyers of orchestra tickets can find them would be a good idea? Or placing ads near sports tickets sales if you are a youth sports nonprofit? We don’t profess to have the answers, but our hunch is your new junior board would.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
One of the first things our YPB organized for us was a free SEO audit. We thought we understood how SEO worked, and mistakenly thought how quickly folks found us online was largely about having certain keywords and tags on our website. In fact, the SEO audit identified a number of new and interesting ways for us to improve our sites’s visibility, almost all having to do with things we should be doing unrelated to our site.
3. Sourcing Generous Donations
Without even being asked, our YPB has sourced a number of terrific donations for BoardAssist. One YPB member sourced free digital advertising for us with two major publications worth over $10,000. Another one arranged for free printing of our signature book on board service, Giving Back.
4. Helping us Communicate in the year 2016
Getting your nonprofit’s message out in 2016 requires a completely different set of skills and communications techniques than it did in 2006 or 1996. In addition to being on top of the latest social media trends, basic document production needs to be different. Operating a nonprofit in 2016 means knowing how to communicate with images as much as with words. Our YPB has updated a number of documents in our board recruiting arsenal to make them more user friendly and replaced heavy text with more images.
5. Recruiting for our own Young Professionals Board and Raising our Visibility Generally
Millennials are terrific at networking and team-building. Our YPB grew themselves from zero to 12 professionals in no time flat. While BoardAssist initially sourced candidate ideas for the team, our YPB interviewed and successfully closed these candidates wholly on their own. They also organized from start to finish several social events promoting BoardAssist – from finding spaces to host events for free, and creating and distributing Paperless Post invitations, to creating buzz for the events through multiple social media outlets, all at no cost to BoardAssist of staff time or money. YPB events have all been 100% self funding.
6. Creating Valuable New Partnerships
One of the top priorities for our YPB is finding more folks who want to serve on junior boards for our clients. YPB members have been working enthusiastically to set up partnerships with the schools they attended and companies they work at to do just that. Millennials excel at collaborating. Putting that skill to work for BoardAssist has been terrific.
What are you waiting for? Let BoardAssist help you build your own junior board. If yours is half as productive and energetic as ours has been, you will be very pleased indeed.
A final note: while BoardAssist’s YPB is not engaged in fundraising for BoardAssist (as we don’t ask this of them), most junior boards are very involved in fundraising and enormously successful at it.
The preceding article is by Cynthia Remec, Executive Director and founder of nonprofit BoardAssist, New York's leading personalized board matching service. This article was originally published July 15 on the BoardAssist blog.