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SHE Serves: Service From a Birds’-Eye View

Hope Buckner isn’t just our Young&BosSHE CPRO. She’s also a young professional with years of experience working with nonprofits–and volunteering with them. In “Service From a Birds’-Eye View,” Hope shares why volunteering on nonprofit boards is so important to her and how others who are interested in doing the same might get started.


 All nonprofit organizations have boards – it’s one of the many things that help make nonprofits exactly what they were created to be. Governed by a team of volunteers that exist purely to ensure the health and well-being of the organization, nonprofit boards make up a significant part of our sector (and subsequently, learning about their habits and structure made up a correspondingly significant portion of my graduate school curriculum in nonprofit leadership).

Throughout school, as my classmates and I navigated so many aspects of nonprofit life, we found ourselves back at conversations surrounding the board. How should they be managed? How frequently should they meet? What is their job as it relates to the day to day happenings of the organization? How do they govern while staying ‘out of the weeds?’ We consistently found ourselves coming back to these questions.

In some ways, board leadership and activities can be a bit confusing as we begin to think about the practical application of their work. It’s easy to understand their responsibilities *abstractly*, but when it comes time to put those things into practice, it can be challenging to understand. Admittedly, as a graduate student, I found myself struggling to understand this balance, relationship, dance – until I had the opportunity to sit on a board myself.

I’m grateful to have had the chance to volunteer and work with many nonprofits throughout Nashville and beyond, in a variety of roles, but I must point to my experiences serving on a board as some of the most meaningful ones I’ve had within the sector to date. It’s these experiences that have truly helped me begin to understand best practices within board governance, organizational leadership and more.

There is something so meaningfully fulfilling about joining hands with other volunteer professionals, sitting around a table of diverse perspectives and speaking truth, good, richness into the happenings of an organization. It’s such an honor to be asked to serve in this role, and it doesn’t come without its challenges, but the opportunity to engage with an entire organization’s future is incredibly meaningful.

From leading committees to reviewing budgets to speaking into vision and growth, I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything quite like it. And while it’s nothing to be taken lightly, serving on a nonprofit’s board is absolutely life-giving.

I work in the nonprofit sector – I understand the mentality of consistently doing more with less and less as we navigate the ever-shallowing pool of resources (or so it seems). So sometimes answering a call to serve on a board (or in any other way) can feel like yet another box on the to-do list. There’s only so much time in the day….and I wish I could figure out a way to create more.

Yet, fellow SHEs, from one nonprofit professional (or other industry that is equally tiring, yet incredibly fulfilling) to another, let me ask you to do this. Find an opportunity to truly lean into a board experience. If not in a board member role, contact your favorite nonprofit and ask about board committee opportunities.

Interested in finace? There’s a place for you! Want to spread your HR knowledge? You can for sure get plugged in. Looking to share your legal knowledge? There are about 1,000,000 orgs who would snatch you up today. Love to fundraise? Get involved (and email me as I’m a Fundraising Chair for a national nonprofit, and we’d LOVE your help!).

The point is – let’s do this. You have so much knowledge, knowledge that is so deeply needed by the organizations across our country. The truth is, the health of our sector depends on knowledgeable, passionate, dedicated professionals who are interested in dedicating their time and attention to the sustainability and well-being of organizations that provide life-giving work to countless people.

The time to truly lean into this work is now – we have the opportunity to dig in our heels and make a significant impact on the future of our world.

If not us, then who?

ICYMI: We dropped SHEspeaks Episode 8 last week. Listen now!

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