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Join a Board: How?

Interested in joining a board? First, find a board you are passionate about. If it's a large organization, chances are they already have a full board and there might be a waiting list for joining. So, if you've not served on a board before, start small. There are certain rules, usually most boards follow Robert's rules of orders. So if it's been a while since you've used those, or never have, it would be great to learn how motions happen, from a smaller board first.

Second, find three nonprofits that you care about, look up their information, call one after the other, and ask if they're needing board members. When I moved to Carthage, I talked to the Carthage Historic Preservation, which owns and manages the historic Phelps House. I attended a presentation by one of their members, I went up to them afterwards and said, "Man, this sounds so interesting, I'd really be interested in joining your board." It was a full year later before I got an invitation.

Boards move slowly. They usually meet once a month and sometimes less often than that. It can take a really long time and it's usually once a year that they're looking to add people to their board So it can be a while before you attend your first meeting. Don't let that deter you. Start by reaching out to that first board and be prepared to reach out two or three times. Volunteers often have things fall through the cracks, so it might take more pro-activity on your part than you would think. It doesn't mean you're being pushy or that they'll be frustrated with you for that, they'll probably be grateful that you're being persistent and professional in following up.

If you find three smaller boards to join and reach out to each one of them, there's a good chance that one of them will have a spot for you within a few months. If not, then a great first step might be to just start volunteering more often. Instead of joining the board, maybe they're already full, find that nonprofit you really care about and ask how you get more involved with them. As an involved volunteer, you might be put on the list of people they think of when they need to fill that next board position.

Another big benefit of joining a nonprofit board is that it fills your PERMA bucket of meaning. PERMA is a positive psychology concept. The idea is that you have five buckets you need to fill to increase your personal happiness. One of those buckets is a sense of meaning. Joining a board for a nonprofit that you really care about can do wonders for filling that bucket of meaning for you, which gives you a more balanced and happy life.


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