Landing your first board position can seem elusive. However, there are a number of organisations that are a perfect place for you to start your board career. These organisations also happen to be the ones who are usually always on the lookout for qualified and keen individuals to join their board. It’s win-win!
These organisations fall into three main groups, and all will provide you with valuable board and director experience. While most of these directorships are in a volunteer capacity, approach it as an investment into your ongoing director education and experience building.
Lawn bowls, netball, soccer, triathlon, dragon boating, walking, cricket, you name it, they have a board (or a management committee or executive committee) and they are usually looking for people to join it. It helps if you have an interest in the sport; however, this is not mandatory. As long as you are willing to learn about the sport’s and the organisation’s objectives, , and you have something to contribute, you will be a valued addition to the organisation, and you will gain valuable board experience.
My first board positions were with sporting clubs, and whilst there is a greater expectation placed on you to be hands-on within the organisation (i.e. help out at race/game/event day), they give you great entry-level director and board experience, and can lead to other board placements in larger, for-profit businesses.
Charities, Foundations, and Not-for-Profit Organisations
These are the organisations that serve philanthropic purposes, usually for people living with disabilities and/or diseases, have experienced hardship, or are minority groups (to name a few). They are fantastic organisations, serving a higher purpose, and are staffed by people who work with an enormous amount of passion. They also happen to be regularly looking for qualified people to join their board.
Like sporting clubs, you don’t have to be directly impacted by the organisation’s cause (although it does help to have your and the organisation’s values aligned); however, you have to have an interest in and be willing to learn about the organisation’s objectives around the cause it serves.
These boards are often times less involved than sporting clubs; however, you need to ensure that you have the capacity to contribute effectively to the board and other activities conducted by the organisation (for example, fundraising).
These include groups such as Neighbourhood Watch, Rotary Clubs, Sea Rescue Squadrons, community banks, advisory councils, local council community groups, and other organisations that provide an important service to their local communities.
The level of contribution required can vary on these boards / committees / councils; however, like with sporting clubs and philanthropic organisations, they give you great entry-level director and board experience, and can lead to other board placements in the future.
The next step for you to do now is to research these organisations that are in your local area and find the best person to approach to register your interest in becoming involved on their board. Check out this post for some extra help in getting yourself prepared for joining a board.
Where else would you suggest aspiring directors to start their board career?