Six years ago, the phrase “junior board” was understood by only a few. Now, I hear it all the time. I work at a nonprofit consulting firm, Orr Associates, Inc (OAI). OAI works exclusively with nonprofits to help them with their fundraising and development needs. Our nonprofit partners consistently tell us they struggle to engage with Millennials. Many of them have been building junior boards to serve as a solution.
Over the past year, I took the time to study the complexities and fundraising interests of the Millennial generation. In my research, I identified over 400 nonprofits that have a junior board and spoke with over 70 of them about their junior board. I also serve as a board member on four different junior boards.
Based on my experience, I strongly believe that this is just the beginning and one day every nonprofit will have both a governing board and a junior board. I identified three reasons why junior boards are becoming more popular: demand from the young professionals, demand from corporations, and demand from the nonprofits, each with their own motivations.
Why do Millennials want to join junior boards?
According to the Millennial Impact Report, “84% of Millennial employees made a charitable donation in 2014”. Furthermore, “72% of Millennials are interested in participating in a nonprofit young professionals group.” Young professionals not only care about giving to charity, but also want to be a part of a junior board or young professionals group. They want to tell their friends about the great work they are doing, and build their resume at the same time. Going into a job interview, having “Junior Board Member, XYZ Nonprofit” is a value-add. Millennials know that being a leader in the community is an important part of their development and will be a way to make themselves more attractive to potential employers. Not only is it a resume builder for them, it is also a networking tool. Junior boards give young professionals the opportunity to meet people outside their own network.
What’s in it for companies?
Companies understand the importance of providing nonprofit engagement opportunities for their employees. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, “Employees respond best when they are given an array of different ways to engage in a cause…” Companies understand this and they are providing the resources to offer these engagement opportunities.
Additionally, companies benefit by saying to a potential job candidate, “15% of our 2014 analyst class sit on a junior board of a nonprofit and we will help and encourage you to do the same.” This is a recruitment tool and can be a game changer because, “about a third of respondents said their companies’ volunteer policies affected their decision to apply for a job…” (Millennial Impact Report)
Why should nonprofits want to have a junior board?
At OAI, clients always ask us, “How can I reach younger donors?” A common solution is to encourage young professionals to volunteer. While this works for many, a lot of nonprofits cannot offer great volunteer opportunities based on their mission or area in which they work. Also, volunteer days can be expensive for a charity and potentially very time consuming for the staff of the nonprofit. Most importantly, volunteering primarily is a cost for a nonprofit, not a revenue generating activity.
Junior boards give nonprofits the ability to cultivate young donors through programmatic opportunities; but most importantly, give nonprofits the chance to fundraise. According to Youth INC’s Young Professionals Board manager, Jenna Stasiewicz: “Youth INC’s YPB now raises over $100,000 annually.” While junior boards might not raise as much as senior boards, they do offer funding that would have otherwise not been realized. As Ryan Huling from PETA quoted in a Chronicle of Philanthropy article: “The payoff will come later, in the form of financial support and activism.”
In my next blog, I will discuss some of the challenges that nonprofits face with junior boards and I will offer some solutions on how to alleviate these burdens.
CJ Orr joined the OAI team in 2013 and focuses on client work and new business development. As an Associate Director, CJ provides superior service to OAI’s clients and develops strong business relationships as well as develops new opportunities to expand OAI’s footprint in the nonprofit sector.