Friday, July 10, 2009

It is Better to Give Than to Receive - Voluntary Board Service standard

This post was written by Shelley Heil, who has been interning at the Charities Review Council this summer. Shelley is pursuing degrees in Sociology and Spanish at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Nonprofits, as the name implies, are by nature meant to serve the community that their mission statement highlights. Resources (financial and otherwise) should go towards supporting that mission, not towards enriching the lives of its leaders. As the philosophy states, donors expect that “board members serve without compensation.” Thus, board membership is a voluntary position where members give of their time and share their insights as a gift to the organization.

There is no doubt however that serving on a nonprofit board is a time-consuming commitment that can be draining and even a sacrifice. And recently there was an interesting blog post, with an international perspective, that even questioned whether a volunteer board is of value to a nonprofit.

Is it too much to ask skilled individuals to provide leadership on a board without monetary compensation? If this is a general rule, do you think there are any reasonable exceptions? Furthermore, does offering compensation allow an organization to recruit a more diverse group of board members?

Up Next: Separation of Roles


VA said...

This is a great question. Although this is general rule, I think there are reasonable exceptions. It depends on the culture and needs of the organization and boards. I don't know if I agree that you will get more "qualified skilled" individuals by simply offering monetary compensation. However, you will get a larger "diversity" of candidates. These candidates might come with the same professional skill sets, but will offer new perspectives for the board/organization. Culturally, volunteering is not a norm. This also could not be financially possible. By offering this monetary compensation, you will expand your pool of candidates (e.p. younger professionals, people of color, etc.).

mwera said...

Thanks, VA, for your comment. I think you bring up some good points. In particular, one thing that we have heard during the process of revising that Standards, is the cultural aspect of volunteering. One focus group participant who is from a nonprofit serving the Eastern European community mentioned that within their culture there isn't a strong ethic of volunteerism.