What’s your board make-up? If you’re like my organization, our board is composed of over 40 year-olds (the average age is probably around 65), higher level business executives, and white. It mirrors the population that we attract and, despite the lack of diversity, is a really great, active board.
We do have minorities on the board, however we have no member under 40 on the board. In a November, 2014 post, Colleen Dilen highlighted Six Urgent Reasons To Add Millennials To Your Nonprofit Board of Directors. Her list includes:
- Millennials represent the largest generation in human history, so not having at least one of them on your board may be a bit out of touch.
- Millennials will have primary influence on culture and society for an unprecedented duration so not having one on your board is delaying an inevitable future and holding back progress.
- Millennials will significantly influence the outcomes of the next six presidential elections and if your organization does not get millennials involved in understanding policy-related challenges and opportunities from a leadership buy-in standpoint, you may be “voting” against your own best interest.
- Engaging millennials requires immediate, strategic shifts in leadership mentalities far beyond simply “using social media”.
- What your organization actually DOES is more important than ever before and aiming to be seen as an organization welcoming to millennials without actually welcoming millennials where it counts may actually be detrimental to your bottom lines.
- Millennial board members can help connect your organization directly to millennial donors because millennial board members can be every bit as valuable as other board members.
These are all excellent reasons to add millennials directly to your board. Junior boards and Under 40 organizations with boards are excellent that they engage this age group. But, in my experience, having served on several of these types of boards, you’re planning events and making small scale decisions, not involved in driving the direction of the organization. As a millennial myself, I want some years sitting beside the organizational policy makers and learning from them before taking over as opposed to taking over with only a Junior Board membership as my experience.
So, looking for your next class of board members? Include a 20- or 30-something on your list. I think you’ll see great returns.