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Columbia MBA Students Discuss Leadership and Impact in the Nonprofit Sector

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If you’re looking for professional development opportunities and ways to make an impact, serving on a nonprofit board might be the perfect outlet. At least that’s what many Columbia Business School students are discovering. The latest trend at CBS is joining a junior board of directors for nonprofit governance.

What is a Nonprofit Junior Board?

“Sometimes called associate boards or leadership councils, these assemblies of young business leaders—typically under 35 years of age—bolster their organizations through mission-critical initiatives such as fundraising and public outreach,” explains CBS news.

These boards are an opportunity for MBA students to explore the nonprofit sector while also gaining essential business development skills. Students walk away with training in the mechanics of managing a nonprofit.

According to the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, it’s a great way to give back to the community while also enhancing a student’s resume. Serving on a board offers opportunities for networking, working abroad, and more. According to a panel discussion, “members can expect to get much more out of the experience than the time and resources they are expected to give.”

Junior Boards and Nonprofit Governance

At CBS, junior boards have become a staple in the nonprofit community. It’s a way for organizations to gain fresh ideas from young talent. For example, Lindy Gould (CBS MBA ’19) built a junior board from the ground up for the Clinton Foundation during her spring internship. But that’s just one example.

There are many board opportunities and board matching services to help students find their perfect fit. The CariClub lists more than 1,000 boards on its platform, and the annual Nonprofit Board Showcase at CBS provides a unique opportunity for students and alumni to meet representatives from nonprofit organizations.

As for getting on a junior board, it varies depending on the organization. Some require a formal process, which means lots of networking. Others are open to the idea as long as you are passionate about the organization and are willing to reach out.

Sitting on a Junior Board

Most often, junior boards have no fiduciary responsibilities. Instead, these boards are typically focused on fundraising goals either through soliciting donations or the members donating themselves. The average commitment is around $1,000, but most members raise even more.

Outside of raising funds, membership on a board provides an excellent platform for students to demonstrate what they care about and to make a difference. Learn more on the CBS website.

Kelly Vo
Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.