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Associate Boards: A World of Fundraising You Never Knew Existed

We're Spilling Secrets and a Five-Step Guide

Associate Boards: A World of Fundraising You Never Knew ExistedIt happens all the time. A sharp, rising late-20/early 30-something-year-old learns about your organization and wants to get involved. He or she’s got an impressive resume for a young career, a warm smile, and a handshake that says this kid’s going places. This up-and-comer is a prime candidate for a governing board seat ... in about 10 years, of course. 

A fundraising pamphlet and volunteer brochure later, the rising star is off, with fleeting inspiration, probably never to be seen again. And not because your organization isn’t awesome, or because they don’t genuinely care about your mission, simply because you don’t have the bandwidth or the proper mechanism to engage them. 

Until now.  

Enter the ever-powerful associate board.  

By definition, an associate board is a leadership group of emerging professionals, typically ages 25-35, who leverage their time, networks, and resources to help build the capacity of a nonprofit. Like a governing board, an associate board meets on a scheduled basis and members have certain expectations, both monetary and participatory. 

An associate board is the winning combination of meaningful engagement and leadership development that those rock-star, rising millennials—the ones you want to hold on to—so desperately crave. 

From a nonprofit perspective, associate boards are a strategic and incredible way to build a foundation for the future—this is your pipeline of leaders and donors—your next generation of philanthropists. In the immediate future, these young professionals are your arsenal of highly motivated volunteer talent, resource development and penetration into the millennial market. 

They can spread your mission over networks you’d never reach—through social media, planned events, and targeted asks of their own personal and professional relationships. They are a catalyst for organic growth and awareness—one of the healthiest and most rewarding by-products of associate boards. 

You can find potential associate board members through CariClub, an online platform and free resource for nonprofits to match with rising professionals at top industry firms interested in getting involved. Nonprofits like the USTA Foundation, BUILD, the ADL, KIPP Charter Schools and hundreds more have already built profiles and started recruiting on CariClub’s platform.

Well good for thembut I don’t have an associate board. Nor do I know how to build one. 

Today is your lucky day. 

Introducing your very own, free, and the first ever, How-to-Build an Associate Board Guidebook.  

Recognizing the need and demand for highly effective and efficient associate boards, CariClub created an easy five-step manual for any nonprofit that wants to create an associate board. 

In order to create the guidebook, CariClub formed The General Assembly, a collective of nonprofit leaders and young professionals in the associate board and philanthropic space to advise on  challenges, best practices and new ideas in the associate board realm. CariClub then compared that feedback with the data of several hundred organizations that had an associate board to uncover successful trends and inefficiencies. The result is an organized and easy-to-follow five-step manual on how to seamlessly build an associate board that delivers an incredible experience for members, while being an effective and easy-to-manage tool for nonprofits. 

The five-steps in the guidebook are: 

  • Confirm Internal Support
  • Lay the Framework
  • Recruit Your Leaders
  • Launch Your Board
  • Grow Your Board

With each step, the guidebook provides detailed instructions, helpful guidance, and easy template materials you can use as freely as you wish to get your associate board up and running.  

These template materials include: 

  • An internal framework to present to your organization as a plan for structure and growth
  • A roles and responsibilities 1-pager to use as an overview document for any young professional interested
  • Associate board meeting best practices, meaningful experiences, and a sample agenda structure

I’m loving the sound of thishow do I get started?


Download your free copy of the Associate Board Guidebook now, released for the first time on GuideStar: 


With the guidebook in hand (and your organization signed up on CariClub), you’ll be fully equipped to successfully launch an associate board and secure your next generation of leaders. 

So the next time you meet that rising star, you won’t have to rely on a pamphlet to keep him or her coming back—you’ll be able to offer a chance to lead and contribute in a meaningful way. 


Associate Boards: A World of Fundraising You Never Knew ExistedThe preceding is a guest post by Nicole Federico, currently founding member and Head of Partnerships at CariClub. Prior to CariClub she worked at CCS, a top consulting firm in the fundraising space where she most notably worked to build a global council for Habitat for Humanity and launch McKinsey & Co’s first spinoff nonprofit. Nicole first started her career at Smile Train, where she founded their endurance fundraising program, Team EMPOWER, which has funded free surgery for more 15,000 children around the world. She graduated Villanova University with a degree in communications and a double minor in PR and organizational communications. Nicole currently resides in Manhattan with her fiancé and serves as a member of the associate board for Summer Search and Champions Benefit Committee for iMentor.

Topics: Millennial engagement Associate Boards