Young MBA’s Offer Skills to Nonprofit Boards

By on Monday, December 5, 2011

More MBA students are offering their skills to nonprofit boards through business school fellowship programs, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. The arrangements give nonprofits business-savvy and connections with young professionals, and provide hands-on experience in social change for students.

I joined my first nonprofit board while in college, and I was often the youngest person in the room by a few decades. But I gained valuable experience in the real world workings of a nonprofit organization in the process of serving on that board (which I spent about 10 years on), and the other board members also learned from me too.

Nonprofits often struggle to connect with young people under age 30, especially in the board room. The Bloomberg Businessweek author notes that on average, only 6% of nonprofit boards have members under the age of 35, according to a 2008 Urban Institute study of nonprofits with annual expenses between $500,000 and $5 million. The same study also found that:

  • 69% of boards have trouble recruiting new members.
  • 36% of nonprofit boards have no minority representation at all (even scarier, nearly half of the boards surveyed, 48%, said that race and ethnicity were not important considerations when recruiting board members, meaning this is not even on their radar).
  • 26% of boards do not assess whether their organization is achieving its mission at least once every two years.

As more business schools put in place fellowship programs to connect MBA’s with nonprofits, let’s hope more organizations take advantage of the energy and expertise they have to offer.

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