The most successful junior boards will be more than just a fundraising arm of your organization. Our idea of a successful junior board is one that is actively engaged in the mission, has consistent membership and is willing to be an advocate for your cause. Being an advocate for your cause can mean many things, including fundraising, but that’s not it’s sole definition.
We hear organizations say over and over “the junior board should be raising us more money,” or “we want a junior board so they can run this event for us.” Here are a couple of things to remind yourself of when you start to have those thoughts:
1) Your junior board members chose you - and they might not again.
If a young professional seeks out your organization and wants to be a part of the junior board, their first thought is typically NOT “I want to fundraise for this organization.” If they seek you, they are generally drawn in by your mission. But then what are they asked to do? Throw a party. If what brought them to you originally is not what you are engaging them in, they won’t stay. Millenials value their time just as much as their money, and if they don’t feel like they’re being used how they want, they may walk.
2) They are working hard in their careers to start their success, which means their free time is in fact, less free than you think.
Just because junior board members are volunteering, doesn’t mean they have an abundance of “free time”. Most young professionals who will get involved with your nonprofit are probably involved in many other activities-- meaning their time is in high demand. If you respect it and they feel their time is valued, they’ll stay. If not, they’ll go.
3) They are more than an event committee.
Yes, events are fun and yes, young professionals LOVE a good event, but events come and go. Picture this scenario: You are throwing a big event and you tell your junior board that their sole purpose is to throw this event, divide up responsibilities and fundraise. Then you realize that five of your member have weddings or will be out of town that weekend. If all they are asked to do is plan an event, those that can't attend are much more likely to disengage if they can't attend. If you engage them on a deeper level (remember that mission that brought them there in the first place) they’re more likely to stay through event seasons and maintain consistency on your board (which will, ultimately, raise you more money).
What’s important to remember is that the junior board members should be utilized to strengthen your organization as a whole. They are the future Board of Directors, major donors and community advocates, so their experience should be comprehensive in that reflection.