Gen Y & Not For Profits: The Win-Win Situation
3 October 2013 at 11:18 am
Not for Profit Boards can benefit from appointing GenYs to their ranks, according to one ‘twenty-something’ Not for Profit Board member and tax consultant, Marija Vijovic who describes the volunteer experience as a win-win situation.
I have a confession to make. I'm one of the bemoaned Gen Y. One of the generation of twenty-somethings often heard about.
We've been called everything from "Gen Y-bother" to the "Me generation" and, while the media hasn't been all that kind to us, there is some good news. We're not all that bad, honest.
In fact, we actually have some interests and skills that organisations, especially in the Not for Profit sector, can benefit from. Likewise, by matching our skills to organisations whose causes we are passionate about, we can also learn valuable skills and develop professionally. Herein lies the win-win situation for NFPs and Gen Y.
I draw on my own experience to illustrate. Just under a year ago, I was given the incredible opportunity of joining the Board of a NFP organisation, Beehive Industries of WA Inc. I had no prior experience with boards, or NFPs apart from some small fund-raising initiatives. However, like a significant proportion of my cohort, something I did have was passion and the desire to make a difference in the community.
The opportunity arose from an advertisement on the Pro Bono Australia website, and progressed because of the board's willingness to look beyond my age and consider what contribution I could make as a Gen Y. Beehive did not see my age as a limitation, but instead welcomed the energy and drive from our first contact.
From my own experience, here are some areas where NFP boards can benefit by appointing Gen Ys:
A fresh perspective on existing board issues
Dust off that old to-do list the board never quite got around too and re-introduce an unresolved agenda item or two. By appointing a Gen Y board member, your organisation could benefit from a fresh, unbiased perspective and eagerness to action these items.
Tech savvy, social media addicts
If your board has trouble distinguishing its tweets from its snap-chats, never fear. If we have a cause, we are not afraid to take to social media to promote it. Why not utilise Gen Y's social media savvy to promote your cause?
The passion that comes with getting a Gen Y behind a cause
Harnessing the energy and passion that comes with Gen Y board members is a huge benefit to NFP boards. We are the generation passionate about social justice and environmental causes and we have genuine drive when it comes to these matters.
Gen Ys can also benefit from experience on NFP boards:
Mentoring from experienced people
Boards are often made up of experienced business people and respected members of society. Gen Y board members can learn invaluable lessons from such people and look up to them as mentors, or advisors with a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Improved communication and leadership skills
Being a board member requires a substantial amount of communication. Whether in written or spoken forms, board members have the opportunity to communicate among themselves and to third parties on behalf of the organisation. This is an excellent way to improve communication skills for Gen Y who may not yet have had this opportunity in a professional setting.
Broadened horizons from a variety of experiences
Many Gen Ys are employed in junior positions in the private sector. This often means limited exposure to different experiences and real world business issues. By getting involved with a NFP, Gen Ys can increase their exposure to real organisational obstacles and learn how to overcome these in order to make a real difference in the community. Exposure to governance and financial and strategic goals increases the overall business acumen of the Gen Y volunteer making for a more skilled professional.
So the next time your board is considering a new appointment, why not consider some Gen Y candidates? It’s a win-win situation.
About the author: Marija Vujovic is a Board Member and Treasurer at Beehive Industries of WA Inc. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Finance and Economics and works as a Senior Tax Consultant at Ernst & Young Australia. (The views expressed in this article are the views of the author, not Ernst & Young. The article provides general information, does not constitute advice and should not be relied on as such.)