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Stepping Up to the Plate: Serving on a Non-Profit Board

By Betsy Neff Hay, Executive Director
United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Several weeks ago, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce teamed up with The Community Foundation and United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County to sponsor a training event for business persons interested in serving on a non-profit Board of Directors. The response to the event was so positive that the three organizations are planning to duplicate the event this Spring.

Why the rush to learn about local non-profits?

Non-Profit Search EngineHarrisonburg and Rockingham County boast nearly 100 local non-profits! A quick visit to www.tcfuwhr.org, a search website compiled by The Community Foundation and United Way, reveals the breadth and scope of services provided by these organizations – everything from private education and healthcare to the performing arts.

Consider that each non-profit is governed by a local Board of Directors of at least ten members and we see that the non-profit sector is dependent on the competencies and commitment of at least 1,000 leaders in our community.

The responsibilities of these volunteer leaders are great. And the impact is significant. The non-profit business sector has a lot on the line. The 32 United Way partner agencies alone pump $12,500,000 per year into the local economy and employ over 330 staff with wages totaling $7,000,000 per year. This is not to mention the 12,000 persons whose lives are improved through the compassionate work of these agencies.

It is imperative that the non-profit sector of our community expect only the brightest and best of our local leadership to guide our organizations and then purposefully attract those persons to rewarding volunteerism.

What does it take to serve on a non-profit Board?

A favorite song from the Broadway show “Damn Yankees” comes to mind – “You’ve gotta have heart! Miles and miles and miles of heart!” That’s true! But in reality, you’ve got to have a lot more than heart to step up to the plate!

Do you have…

Skill sets that you can put to use in a non-profit setting? Skills such as accounting, public relations, marketing, graphic design, social networking, business planning, fund raising and human resource management are always needed and welcome.

Support from your workplace to volunteer your time and represent your company through community service? Board membership is one way that the private sector can compliment and strengthen the non-profit and public sectors in our community.

Leadership traits that put team work and collaboration above self-interest or self advancement? If you are looking for opportunities to develop a mind and heart for leadership, service on a non-profit board is a great way to learn what it takes.

Financial resources to invest in the non-profit organization OR the ability to open doors to other persons with financial resources? Expect to make the organization you serve one of your top charitable choices, whether your gift is $50 or $5,000 annually.

Contagious passion for our community? Whether you have a love for children, older adults, animals, the environment, the arts or the homeless, there is a non-profit that will match your interests and benefit from your passion.

Are you willing to sign?

As a touch of spring hits the air this week and our favorite baseball teams take to spring training camp, consider signing with a non-profit “team” this year. The vitality of our community is dependent on the non-profit sector as equal partners with the public and private sectors. And the non-profit sector is only as strong as those in leadership positions on local boards. Whether a rookie or a veteran, step up to the plate and show us what you’ve got!

Look for details on the “Building Blocks for Non-Profit Board Members” seminar coming soon.

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