Starting a Junior Board presents a forum for young professionals to be in service to a mission of a charity that is personally meaningful. (UBS)

Why start a Junior Board?
The first step in considering whether to start a Junior Board is to be clear on the benefits. While there are similar characteristics to all non-governing boards, there are distinctive benefits to Junior Boards, such as giving junior talent the opportunity to raise their career profiles while enhancing the brand profiles of organizations looking to attract that talent. Participation may also be deeply rewarding for someone interested in a particular issue.

A key benefit of a Junior Board is the opportunity to give individuals the chance to practice their values by serving on your board. The first step is to clarify “why”? What are the organizational values you want to promote by providing the volunteer leadership opportunity? Every organization operates as its own value system—whether it be an arts organization that values innovation, or a college success organization that values inclusion. Centering on your organization’s values will help you source the talent you want to attract, and will nourish the vitality and productivity of the board.

Another question to answer when considering starting a Junior Board is what are your goals and how do you want to go about achieving them? Prior to starting a Junior Board for your organization, you may want to consult with others that have already started Junior Boards and ask about the surprises they faced as well as the benefits they have enjoyed. Meeting with the nonprofit’s leadership will help you better manage organizational expectations.

Regardless of board structure, starting a Junior Board presents a forum for young professionals to be in service to a mission of a charity that is personally meaningful, and learn skills that are transferable to a current or prospective career. It also provides them with an opportunity to network with like-minded peers as well as meet and work with people they might not otherwise come across in their professional or personal lives. Any board experience is a way to develop leadership prowess, observe conflict resolution and consensus building in action, and understand what it takes to move an organization’s strategic focus and fundraising forward.

Ask these questions to determine if starting a Junior Board is right for your organization:

  • How can a Junior Board help meet the overall goals of your organization?
  • What mandate are you giving to your Junior Board? Have you given it clear objectives?
  • What is expected of Junior Board members from the standpoint of time and talent contributed?
  • What is the expected time commitment for Junior Board members? How often will they meet?
  • Are there terms or term limits for Junior Board members?
  • Is there a stated “give/get” goal?
  • How many members will be on your organization’s Junior Board and how will you determine that number
  • What is the connection/access between the governing board and your organization’s senior leadership?
  • Will your Junior Board have formal leadership roles? What will they be and how will you determine who fills them?
  • How do opportunities rise for these roles?
  • How will this engagement contribute to the growth and development of the young professionals who participate?

For more, including what you should consider and expect when starting a junior board, see the full report Nonprofit Junior Boards: The benefits of starting one.