8 Reasons Why CEOs Should Take the Time to Serve on Nonprofit Boards

1 Build Shareholder Value. “These days, people want to work for companies that make a difference in the world,” said Walt Rakowich, former CEO, Prologis and Chairman, Colorado Uplift/Elevate USA. “We live in a much more conscious society. If you want to attract the best and the brightest, you need to think about your culture which includes what you stand for as an organization. Companies maximize shareholder value when they build a sustainable brand, are recognized in their communities and have satisfied employees that are proud to be there.”

2 Great Networking. “I get to meet, work and know like-minded people with similar interests,” said Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO, Mavens & Moguls and former board chair, Sports Museum in Boston. Theresa Regnante, president and CEO, United Way of Long Island, adds that “You’re going to meet people who will change your life.”

3 Strengthen Client Relationships. “Instead of giving money, give time to the cause your client cares most about,” said Jim Lennon, founder of Lennon Photographer and board chair, East End Arts Council and Harry Chapin Food Bank.

4 Make a Difference. Max Aulakh, president, Mafazo: Digital Solutions, is past president, Ohio Information Security Forum. “I served two years for a cyber-security nonprofit. It was most satisfying because the team I was working with was willing to take advice to get things done.“

5 Better Serve the Needs of the Community. “Membership on a board helps the CEO understand the community in which the organization is operating,” said Steven Markowitz, co-founder, MultiState Associates. He also serves as board chairman for the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County.

6 Personal Growth. Gloria Castillo, president and CEO of Chicago United, and director, Field Foundation of Illinois said “I am a better nonprofit CEO because of my service in other organizations.”

7 Give Back. Vladimir Gendelman, founder and CEO, Company Folders, recalls that “When we first came to this country from the former Soviet Union, the Hebrew Free Loan of Detroit gave us a $2,000 interest-free loan to buy a car. I really believe in what the HFL is doing. I want to help them help people achieve their dreams or get through tough financial times.” He now serves on the organization’s advisory committee.

8 Offer Unique Insight. Robert Fields of Sam’s Club, is not a CEO, he is senior director of fresh meat. But his purpose for joining the board of directors of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, a standards-setting organization for aquaculture seafood, provides the final valuable point to our list. As an industry expert, he can provide knowledge that can lead to consumer education, as well as greater aquaculture sustainability, “which is critical if we’re to meet the food needs of the world’s growing population,” he told TheFishSite.com.

The number of nonprofit boards a CEO sits on is really a personal choice. It depends on the level of involvement required, and most important, your passion for a specific cause.


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