In my previous blog post, I discussed the origins of junior boards and the reasons they are ‘trending.’ I also discussed the fundraising potential behind the idea. However, no fundraising tool is perfect. There are challenges to consider before going all in on a junior board.
The good news about junior boards is that every nonprofit, no matter its size or by-laws, can create a junior board. If you don’t want to use the word ‘board’, many have adopted other names such as young professionals group, leadership council, junior associates, etc. Whatever name it’s called, there are no barriers to entry. While there is no legal definition of a junior board, I consider a junior board to be a non-governing group of individuals who are committed stewards and advocates of a nonprofit organization.
The challenges are that a junior board needs to be managed and Millennials require attention. This means there needs to be a point person on staff to drive the strategy for the group, arrange meetings, answer questions, and help with logistics.
After researching over 400 junior boards, I found that one way to reduce the staff time commitment is to ask one or a few of the junior board members to take on this responsibility. Many young professionals enjoy the challenge and it’s worth asking. Or, you can outsource the management and recruitment of a junior board to a consulting firm.
The final challenge that nonprofits face is realizing a return on their investment (ROI). As my colleague Kelly Dunphy says, “if one of your goals for establishing a junior board is to cultivate new donors, when building or managing a junior board, it is always smart to analyze the ROI of time invested vs. the dollars raised in the near-term.” The ROI of a junior board isn’t immediate, but the long-term pay-offs can be great. Usually, in the first year of a junior board, a nonprofit will break even or net a small amount. However, nonprofits should know that junior boards are a long term play. If you engage with young donors now, “within a handful of years, the college graduates will be on their way to becoming CEOs” says Ryan Huling from PETA. Your junior board member could be your next major donor.
In my final blog next Friday, I will discuss new services and technology to help minimize the challenges of a junior board.