Are you Board yet? A more personal perspective on joining a Board

I finally joined a Board.

I say “finally” because I have been invited to apply for Board positions since leaving academia in 2007, but the situations were never right. I have worked with Boards, under Boards, and helped clients work on Board development strategies. Why would I take so long to finally join one? A strong and effective Board of Directors should be the vital core of an organization, and it seems like, in my personal experience, those organizations that are struggling or suffering in some way share one common factor — Board problems.

Are you on board yet? Personal perspective on Board of Directors

I think everyone who has worked in nonprofits has experienced similar problems/frustrations, including the Board members themselves.

There are a lot of great sources of information and advice, including possible benefits of joining a Board of Directors, basic fiduciary responsibilities, potential dilemmas of ineffectiveness, corruption, or just general bad behavior (such as this, this, and this), and the importance of Board member engagement. There are many, many more articles and blog posts our there on the interwebs discussing the benefits, pitfalls, and responsibilities you take on when joining a board.

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Companis: Inspiring Model of Generosity, Compassion, and Community

I must admit that I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately… but spending the afternoon with the wonderful community of Companis workers cured me quickly!

You haven’t heard of Companis in Seattle? You need to!

Companis is an organization that matches professionals in the Puget Sound community with struggling nonprofits who need social workers, accountants, program managers, directors, development professionals… but cannot afford the staffing costs. Companis workers commit to year-long terms of service to their matched organizations. Yes, a year. Think of it as the Peace Corps for Seattle. And Companis doesn’t just make the volunteer match and move on. Workers gather together every few weeks for support and workshops, have annual retreats, and other community building opportunities. This model means that the experience is as enriching and transformative for the workers as it is for the organizations with which they volunteer.

I feel so lucky — blessed, really — to have learned of Companis last summer. Even though I myself have not had the opportunity to become a year-long Companis worker (hopefully in the future when the circumstances are right), I realized today at the Companis picnic how important and inspiring this organization has been to me — personally and professionally.

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