Carol Weisman, president of Board Builders, hypothesizes "that older board members today are more open to respecting young people’s ideas than they were in the past because they respect millennials’ technology skills. When I joined my first board at 23, there was nothing that people in the room who were 50 didn’t know. That’s not true today,” Ms. Weisman says. “Boards today ... they want people under 30. They have a whole different view of how to get messaging out.”
Has your nonprofit considered the angle Ms. Weisman describes? Not thinking about the myriad of strengths a person may have and the different types of relationships they are part of besides ones that result in donations can mean missing out on the positives they would bring to an organization. Generally speaking having a myopic vision of a board's purpose--whether everyone is over 50 or under 30--is not recommended. If the sole focus of all board members is on raising money then they might inadvertently end up divorced from the actual mission of the organization, which could end up leading to disillusionment and turnover. Furthermore, if the board is only viewed by nonprofit staff as a vehicle for raising money then the organization is severely limiting the board's potential.
Bringing younger people onto a board can help to remind staff and board members that each person is more than a dollar sign and has unique skills that can help with fundraising as well as the many other tasks boards should be undertaking. Ultimately this more holistic view will make a board and the organization it serves stronger, which will improve its ability to fulfill its mission. Age diversity is just one component of board diversity, but it is too often overlooked until suddenly an organization confronts a mass retirement of members. Why not get ahead of the game by bringing in some passionate young people today?