At age 24, I decided to join my first arts board. Why? Well, there are three reasons. First, I wanted to serve in a leadership role within an arts organization in my community; second, I’ve always been fascinated with the governance model of nonprofit organizations and wanted to understand the roles/responsibilities of board members; and three, as an emerging arts leader and Gen Y advocate, I wanted to bring a fresh perspective to the board, as well as an opportunity to be innovative. As I look around different arts boards, I don’t see as many young professionals serving in these leadership roles. What’s the reason for that? Is this a national trend?
According to the 2010 BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index, only 2% of nonprofit board members are under the age of 30, reflecting a lack of age diversity on nonprofit boards. Emerging leaders bring a fresh perspective, creative problem solving and strong work ethic to the table. To further explore the issue on YPs on arts boards, I’d like to pose the following questions:
(1) Why are nonprofit arts boards hesitant about recruiting emerging leaders?
Some nonprofit arts organizations have an idea in their head as to the “type” of person that should be serving on the board. Perhaps they prefer to have a corporate leader type brought on, who has the ability to bring in dollars and connections to the organization. Or the organization is looking to fill in seats with leaders who bring specific experience/skill set, such as: marketing, programming or finance. Another reason YPs are not approached for board positions is because board members are simply more comfortable asking their peers and friends to join the organization. Also, board members may not have a direct connection to YPs, and may not know where to find these emerging professionals.
(2) What can arts organizations do to attract emerging leaders?
There are many strategies that arts organizations can implement to attract emerging leaders to their boards. For example, organizations can enhance their outreach strategy by utilizing online platforms, like social media and email marketing campaigns, to advertise open board positions and market certain networking events. Once an arts organization finds and retains an emerging leader, it is important to engage these YPs by doing several things. One way to engage young leaders on a board is to let them lead a project. This will empower young leaders to innovate and provide excellent results. Moreover, arts organizations can provide opportunities for young members to have responsibilities that match their personal interests. This in turn will be a good motivator, as well provide them with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
Does your arts organization recruit emerging leaders for its board? What tactics and strategies does it utilize to engage these young leaders? Do emerging leaders hesitate to join arts boards? Why?
Start the discussion by posting your comments below, tweeting to @artsmgtchat or sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don’t forget to tune into our third #artsmgtchat this Friday, May 25 at 2:00PM EST. We’ll be discussing “Arts Organization Boards: Maximizing Engagement & Effectiveness.” See you then!