Board Participation Reflects You—Good and Bad

If you've ever served on a nonprofit board, you've surely encountered an underperformer or two.

The board member who promises a lot, but rarely comes through. The one who misses meetings and calls—or dashes in consistently late. The type who seem perfectly content with others shouldering any heavy lifting.

Yes, these people like the title more than the job. And it shows. 

But here's the thing. Board participation and volunteer work doesn't happen in a vacuum.

I can't tell you the number of times I've been a part of conversations where someone's board participation becomes part of a hiring decision. I'm astounded at how many people don't consider this.

If you're considering volunteering, be clear about what time you have available and are willing to spend. Find out what the expectations are upfront (trust me, better to know now). And then do what you say you are going to do. It's simple, but more rare than you might think.

And if a life or work crisis happens in the middle of your volunteer commitment, be honest about what's happening so others can pick up the slack without problems happening. Whatever you do, don't go awol. 

And remember, your positive efforts reflect on you, too. Many friends and colleagues alike have had great experiences on nonprofit boards and also found many great opportunities as a result.