Katie Lord, Vice President

As millennials progress in their careers and experience increases in their income, the corporate and philanthropic landscape will continue to shift. This age group is not only changing the workplace dynamic, it is changing the philanthropic landscape – from expectations to involvement.  It is critical to develop and offer engagement opportunities for those born between approximately 1982 and 2000 (known as the “giving generation”) – both for making financial contributions and volunteering – as millennials spur new and innovative changes to charitable giving.

In a recent report released by Dunham + Company, 22% of millennials plan to give more this year than they did last year. In 2016, millennials gave an average of $580 and an average of 40 volunteer hours. While this puts them at the lower end of financial support, millennials are the largest active generation in the workforce today and are starting to approach middle management levels. The nonprofits that harness this generation’s time and talents early will reap the benefits of their treasures later.

As millennials progress in their careers and leadership journeys, many are looking for ways to give back to organizations they care about – but in very “hands-on” ways that afford them a “seat at the table” or a chance to “lean in.” Millennials who are driven by achievement and a strong sense of social responsibility actively seek civic opportunities for service.  Creating a Young Advisory Board is a fantastic way to engage them.

Service opportunities through a Young Advisory Board allow your nonprofit to cultivate this generation, while simultaneously filling your pipeline with potential high performing Board members in the future.  It is important to set up structure, roles, responsibilities and clear expectations that create accountabilities for this group, which mirror the governing Board of Directors. A challenging aspect of working with the millennial constituency is striking a balance of nonprofit staff oversight with group autonomy. You want the Young Advisory Board to be a working board (and not turn into a social or happy hour club) while achieving goals that benefit your organization and those you serve.

In order to set up your Young Advisory Board effectively, here are some best practices to consider:

  • Young Advisory Boards should have between 12 to 15 members
    • Prospective Board members should submit an application and be interviewed
    • Board members should receive and sign off on a job description
    • Board members should represent a diverse spectrum of companies, gender and ethnicities
  • Officer/Executive Committee positions include President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary
    • Note, the President should be a non-voting member on the Board of Directors and invited to attend meetings
  • Set an individual fundraising “give” expectation – this does not have to be a large amount but does need to be an annual gift not tied to an event
  • Set a group fundraising “get” goal that can to be accomplished throughout the year utilizing peer-to-peer fundraising or an event organized by Young Advisory Board members; this is in addition to the individual fundraising “give” expectation
  • Meeting dates and times and length of meetings should be set and agreed upon by the group for greater buy-in and accountability

The above list contains some good starting points to consider when creating a Young Advisory Board.  Your culture, mission and Young Advisory Board leadership will drive many of the roles and expectations, but these best practices will provide a framework to attract young individuals with the work ethic and drive to support your organization, while cultivating a younger demographic and stewarding them to fill your pipeline of future leaders and loyal donors.

Check out Katie’s three-part series on Time, Talent and Treasure for more ideas on strengthening your nonprofit’s Boards.

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