Board or Bored?


Having served on multiple not-for-profit boards over the years, I thought I would comment this evening on the value of serving.

I posted this question, “Is it worth it to serve on a not-for-profit board?” on my LinkedIn discussion group and got a very thoughtful answer from Thomas Scanlon, CPA, a group member and friend.

Here is Tom’s reply:



Good question. I believe there are two answers.

For the non-profit group the answer is absolutely yes. Non-profit groups have been hit particularly hard during this economy. Cutbacks in federal and state funding, declining endowments, and fewer donations to non-profit groups have made this a very challenging time for them. Non-profit groups can use all the help they can get. Particularly from someone involved with finance and who has experience running a business.

For the advisor the answer is, it depends. What does it depend on? There are a host of things, but the primary one is what is the advisor trying to accomplish? If the advisor is excited about the mission of the non-profit group it will likely be a win-win scenario. The non-profit group will get someone that is engaged and contributing to the success of the organization. The advisor will likely feel good about his or her contributions.

If the advisor is “volunteering” because they were told to, feel they have to, or are just looking for business contacts it likely won’t be successful for anyone. For this advisor it will just be another job.

Advisors that want to volunteer should carefully consider what their interests are and what the mission of any potential non-profit group is.



Volunteer work needs to be about passion, not about business and not about boredom.

Carefully evaluate the risks of serving prior to doing so–risks to your own time, risks to your family time, and risks from others wanting you to do additional work, etc.

Thanks, Tom for hitting the nail on the head, again!

Guide – Serving on a not-for-profit board can be a VERY rewarding experience if you are vested in the mission of the group’s effort.

Action Item – Measure twice, cut once when making any decisions about your using your time as a volunteer.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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