Five (plus one) ways to join a non-profit board in Vancouver

One of the most rewarding ways to give back is to serve on the non-profit board. Not only serving on the board allows to make a difference in community, but it also helps to develop new skills and expand professional network.

Many people think that serving on the board of directors is something available only to a select few. This is a very common misconception. Everyone (and I mean it – everyone!) can become a board member.

There are many other sources that list all the benefits of being a board member. The goal of this article is to help you land a board position in Vancouver.

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1. Volunteer with NPO that works in the field you care about

The easiest and the most obvious way to join the non-profit board is to volunteer your time with the NPO you care about. This is also the best way to ensure the right fit. You are going to be making a long-term commitment so it’s important that you are passionate about the cause and that you like the people with whom you will be working. Don’t join some random organization just to add a board role to your resume – there are many non-profits you can connect with on a deeper level. Find the right one for yourself.  

2. Learn fundamentals of board governance & connect with board members

Learning about board governance will ensure that you know what you are doing. Also, it will help to connect with people who are already board numbers. Vantage Point is one of the largest providers of board governance training in Vancouver. They have courses and workshops that suit all experience levels and that are equally beneficial for newbies as well as professional directors.

Institute of Corporate Directors together with Rotman School of Business have developed ICD.D designation. Similar programs include Pro.Dir, Canada’s only comprehensive and world-class director training program delivered completely online, and C.Dir, offered by the Directors College and McMaster University. These programs are available in Vancouver but they are for directors with solid experience (please refer to program sites for details).

If you do not have a solid board governance experience, you can also try The Not-for-Profit Program. Good news – RBC offers a limited number of scholarships for this course.

3. Visit GoVolunteer.ca

Govolunteer.ca, managed by Vantage Point, connects volunteers with not-for-profit organizations. You can find thousands of volunteer opportunities across Canada. Awesome tip: use location and other advanced search filters to display only board roles.

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4. Attend the Vancouver Board of Trade annual Board Matching event

Company of Young Professionals (CYP) is the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s professional development program for people under the age of 35. Launched in 2007, CYP is a vibrant network of more than 600 emerging leaders to acquire the skills needed to advance their careers.

In the past two years, CYP had hosted a board matching event to connect 30+ local non-profits with potential board members. The event was free for GVBT members. If you are young professional under the age of 35, please take a note to check the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade website in early 2020 for the next edition of the event.

5. Browse LinkedIn job postings & NPO websites

This one is obvious but still important. Many organizations post the calls for board members on their social media, websites and on LinkedIn.

Please keep in mind that different non-profits have different requirements to prospective board members. Some require paying about $10 a year for membership while others ask for contributing a minimum of $500. Some focus on strategic planning and governance while others on funds development. Some require you to be a member of the organization for at least 3-4 months before the AGM (annual general meeting), while others allow you to be elected to the board the same day when you join the NPO. Some ask members to serve on the sub-committee for some time in order to be considered for board positions while others don’t. Do your research! 

6. Connect on LinkedIn and/or subscribe to my personal newsletter below – my goal is to share opportunities I know of with my valued network (there are some board opportunities too!) This is a great way to stay in the know!