By Kim O’Brien, Executive Director, Nonprofit Leadership Initiative

There are a growing number of ways HR professionals can get involved and help the community we live in. Of course there is the traditional way to volunteer your time at a multitude of locations with an unending number of events. The local Volunteer Center has an entire site dedicated to finding a fit for you.

But as HR professionals you have so much more to offer! I’m referring to your time and talents served on nonprofit boards, committees or task forces.

Serving on a nonprofit board can be a tremendously rewarding and enriching experience. While you are sharing your ideas, skills and time, you will also gain additional experience beyond your day job, along with the satisfaction of transforming your community.

As a nonprofit board member you will:

  • Add or expand your critical thinking and communications skills,
  • Develop a better understanding of organizational dynamics,
  • Improve your ability to work collaboratively and within a team,
  • Expand your visibility within the community and provide great networking opportunities,
  • Gain leadership experience that you can use in all areas of your life, and
  • Be part of something that is making a difference in your community.

While the above are all great attributes, I also caution that you need to assess if you are really ready for nonprofit board service. You will need to do your homework to find your passion and the right fit. Some nonprofits offer committee or task force projects to ease you into board work. Some require 3-5 hours per month and a financial commitment, while others may only meet quarterly and not all require financial backing from their board members.

And once you are on a board, I encourage you to get the training you need to be the most effective board member you can be. The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative,, provides training on best practice and offers events for board members to share knowledge.

First and foremost, FIND YOUR PASSION! Nonprofits will need you to be passionate about the work they do before you sign up for board, committee or task force work. Again, the Volunteer Center offers a site specific to board service to help you find openings: Nonprofit Leadership Initiative offers free quarterly events to learn about what it means to be on a nonprofit board.

On behalf of the hundreds of nonprofits in the Fox Valley area, I heartily welcome HR professionals into the fulfilling work of helping nonprofits build a stronger community!