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Positive learning challenges of joining a board

Volunteering on a not-for-profit board is a challenging yet immensely rewarding experience. Here are some of the positive learning challenges associated with joining a board.

Understanding Governance
As a board member it is your responsibility to become well acquainted with the governance structures in place in the organisation, as it is the board that holds responsibility for ensuring that the organisation is upholding standards of good governance at all times. Whilst the task of governing an organisation is certainly challenging, you will have the opportunity to develop new and valuable skills. In this leadership role, you will have to call on resources you would not ordinarily use in your place of work, an exercise that will significantly enhance your skill set.
 
Different Backgrounds, Common Goal
Joining a board of any not-for-profit organisation means that you will be working with others who hail from a variety of professional and social backgrounds. This may require some slight manoeuvring at first to find your place on the board – and it is at this point that teething problems may arise. However, it is crucial to bear in mind that irrespective of background, the board must work together to pursue its common goal- the mission of the organisation.

This unique environment gives board members an opportunity to develop skills in team work and negotiation. What’s more, board members will be exposed to a new network of contacts which may be of benefit in another professional capacity.
 
Measuring Success
Measuring the success of a not-for-profit organisation may initially be challenging for those who have come from the for-profit world. As the measurement of social good is less definitive, board members of not-for-profit organisations will become accustomed to utilising more intangible measures of success as opposed to simple financial metrics. Whilst this may seem daunting at first, exposure to new methods of success measurement will significantly broaden your skill set.
 
Acquiring New skills
Volunteering on a not-for-profit board presents a number of positive learning challenges. Whilst you may initially feel like a fish out of water, the experience is immensely rewarding and will provide you with a myriad of valuable new skills which will be of great benefit to you in future professional endeavours. You will gain an in-depth understanding of governance structures and will have the opportunity to enhance your skills in team work, negotiation and problem solving. In addition to gaining practical skills, you will be making a valuable contribution to society and this is arguably the most rewarding aspect of volunteering on a not-for-profit board.