Finding a Not-for-Profit Position to Match Professional and Personal Goals

Getting involved in the community, creating and building relationships, and personal enjoyment are all reasons to get involved in a not-for-profit. But at what point in your career do you know it’s the right time, or how do you know the right organization to join? Several questions go through your mind during the research and selection process. Luckily, through a session in the Anders Business Development Forum, we can provide some tips.

First tip is to take the time to find the board/committee that is right for you. We all have personal and professional goals, so why not find an organization that meets both? Take the time to do your research and find out the goals of an organization you’re interested in. Young Professionals are highly sought after by organizations to fill their junior boards or other positions, so take advantage. Ask to attend a board meeting, or another organization meeting, most will accommodate. It’s important to test it out before committing.

Second tip is, don’t ever take a position just because you think you should. If you are a young professional and a client, or prospect approaches you to be on a board or committee, there is absolute pressure there to say yes. Sometimes you can’t get around it, but in most cases, if you communicate how you feel and how you may not be the best for that organization, they will respect you more now than a year down the road when you decide you can’t do it anymore

Third tip, maximize the work you do to help you professionally. As a young professional, we are all looking to build our networks. Being involved in an organization is just another step in accomplishing that goal. Most times, the other members of a board, or committee are going to be professionals just like you. Use the meetings and networking events to your advantage and continue that conversation through lunch or breakfast meetings.

Last tip, know that is OK to say no. This is a very common situation, especially for accountants. If you’re an accountant, every board is going to want you to be their treasurer, but what if that doesn’t match up to your goals? If it does, great, but if it doesn’t, you’re going to end up feeling obligated to be there, and the passion won’t be there. Having passion for the organization you’re involved in is key, but if you don’t want to be the treasurer, because it’s what you do all day every day, that’s fine too. Communicate that you’d love to be involved, but in a different capacity.

There are so many worthy causes in every community. Use online resources like United Way Volunteer Center, 501 Connect, Launch St. Louis, Young Nonprofit Professional Network and Volunteer match to find what matches your personal and professional goals.