On the nonprofit side, many nonprofits worry that starting or managing a junior board will require too much staff time and/or money for the results a junior board will generate. While that may be the case for some nonprofits, other nonprofits find their junior boards to be great investments. We believe the best way to ensure having a junior board is truly worth your nonprofit’s effort is to both maximize what your junior board accomplishes, while at the same time minimizing the staff time required to manage them.
With the above in mind, we asked our nonprofit clients for their best junior board practices and developed:
Top 9 Tips for Managing your Junior Board
- Outsource the job of recruiting. Let your junior board build your junior board. Recruiting is one of the tasks junior board members love doing most. Let them run with screening resumes and conducting initial interviews of potential junior board members.
- Engage your board. Overseeing your junior board is a great function for one of your board members to perform. Most board members are eager for new projects to support – managing your junior board is a great, easy job to delegate to a board member. Pick a board member to host junior board meetings at their home, who will also attend junior board events and generally liaise with and mentor the junior board.
- Keep a lid on fundraising costs. If your junior board decides to throw a fundraiser, try to make it self-funding. Many stores, galleries and other businesses will offer their space for free (and often kick in the costs of drinks too!) to attract a new group of successful young people to their space. It’s easier than you might think for junior boards to organize small fundraising events that cost your nonprofit nothing.
- Party, party, party! Millenials love to socialize and network – let your juniors plan lots of board social events at board member homes, at restaurants (where they each pay their own way), and at junior board member’s offices. These events should take as little of your staff time as possible – let the junior board organize themselves – they love doing just that!
- Put on their thinking caps. Millenials are full of ideas and enthusiasm. Let them brainstorm on ways they might help you. Often it takes a millennial to identify that special issue that older staff members and the board did not realize needed fixing. Perhaps it’s a technology or social media challenge you didn’t even realize you had. Or a potential partnership a junior board member is uniquely qualified to build for you. Let the junior board focus where they want and they are likely to come up with terrific ideas.
- Be flexible. Consider offering multiple participation paths to junior board members. Some millennials love party planning, others want to do programming jobs only (like help you with social media, marketing and branding/communications), and others want to volunteer – make it clear you don’t have to do all three if that’s what your nonprofit decides. You will likely attract better junior board members if you offer this kind of flexibility.
- Show them you care. Junior board members want to feel they are valued and cherished for what they do for your nonprofit and especially enjoy mingling with the full board. Organize regular social interaction between the full and junior boards to thank them. This should all be done taking as little staff time as possible. Perhaps a board member can organize an annual holiday thank you party for junior and full board members at his or her home or office? Or you may want to include the junior board at occasional social events you have planned for your board?
- Invite them to meetings. Keep your junior board in the loop on strategic challenges on which the board is working and new programming in the works. Consider inviting them to board committee meetings. Some boards will ask a representative (typically the chair) of the junior board to periodically attend board meetings.
- Show me the money. Don’t be shy about asking your junior board to make an annual financial commitment and locking in an annual due date for that donation. Spell out clearly that junior board members give or get $1000 a year (or whatever the proper number is for your nonprofit) and pay their dues by June 30 of each year, or within 3 months of joining your junior board, whichever comes first.
Junior board candidates have tremendous skills to offer in so many areas, especially branding, communications, digital marketing, marketing, social media, public relations, web and graphic design, strategic partnerships, and technology. For some the fun of planning parties and networking is reason enough to join a junior board. For others the ability to work on substantive programming challenges and partner with the board and staff is a great attraction. Whatever the reason why juniors join you, a properly managed junior board can add tremendous value to most nonprofits.
For more on this topic, see OAI's series from earlier this fall on our blog, covering everything from why millennials wants to join junior boards to why nonprofits should consider having a junior board.
The preceding is a guest post by Cynthia Remec, Executive Director and founder of BoardAssist. An internationally recognized authority on nonprofit governance issues, and highly sought after speaker, Ms. Remec has lectured on nonprofit governance at events for the business schools of Columbia, Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, as well as at forums for government agencies, leading financial service institutions and Fortune 100 corporations. Since founding BoardAssist, Ms. Remec has been responsible for bringing over $65 million into the nonprofit community through the board placements she has effected.