Why do so many of your fellow Australians invest their time to sit on boards of Nonprofits and their subcommittees? There is a cost to do this, in time and investment of skills, and taking on the responsibility that comes with being a director. Board activities often take place on evenings, weekends or “out of hours”. All for little or no financial reward. In many ways it makes little sense.

But many tens of thousands do, in fact, join boards and thrive and feel lucky to be there. Are these men and women simply good people, with big hearts? What would be the motivators to join a board of directors if it simply cost you effort, energy and expertise? 

At Brooker Consulting, we are fortunate to speak regularly with board members whilst recruiting for CEO roles, non executive director roles, or when they act as a referee in a search process. It doesn’t take long when speaking with them to understand their motivations and what drives them to give and invest so much. 

Make no mistake – these are good people. They all have heartfelt, deeply personal motivations to do what they do.

But alongside all that, there are benefits that come to them from giving their time. 

Before I suggest some reasons below, I’d love to take a moment to understand and acknowledge how vast this impact is. If you are not familiar, a few data points from the Australian Charities Report 2023 will show that huge breadth of work.

For example, there are approximately 600,000 organisations in the community sector, with almost 60,000 being registered charities. This means that the sector remains a major employer – with charity employees accounting for 10.5% of the Australian workforce. 

It isn’t easy to find the exact number of Board members, but there are clearly hundreds of thousands of your fellow Australians who volunteer their time in this capacity.

Why join a group of people who are elected to provide leadership and guidance in regards to longer-term planning and strategic decision making? Why be responsible for overseeing the executive team, acting in the interests of the business’s various stakeholders, and furthermore, take on liability for the success or failure of a business along with the associated legal responsibilities?

I’m suggesting that joining a board is a brilliant career move for these 8 reasons:

1. Grow Your Professional Network

Volunteering in the nonprofit sector connects you with a diverse range of professionals who share your passion for social impact. While networks are important for different reasons, this expanded web of connections can open doors to new collaborations, partnerships and opportunities that can benefit your career and organisation.

2. Sharpen Your Professional Skills

Engaging in volunteer board work provides a unique platform to apply and enhance your existing skills in a different context – and more importantly – to elevate your strategic thinking. You will likely be working on big picture problems, longer term horizons and be exposed to a different scale of operation. You will be sitting across the table from experienced and skilled professionals who have different backgrounds to you. The exposure this brings to a diversity of decision making and thought processes, is in itself, invaluable.

3. Gain Skills to Enhance Your Other Leadership Roles

Have you got ambition to become a CEO or Executive? 

By becoming part of an active board, key areas of responsibility include governance and risk management. You will learn so much about how to execute in those areas – dealing with the CEO and operational team – operating with limited resources. 

When Brooker Consulting conducts a search assignment for a CEO or C-Suite role, without question, the candidate’s reputation is enhanced by experience on committees and boards. 

One small example is preparing a board report as an executive to present key information, trends, and insights. To determine what the board needs to know, having experience as a board member yourself provides valuable insight into what information is of interest to them.

4. Experience Different Leadership Styles

Volunteering in this capacity also allows you to experiment with new leadership styles and strategies in a supportive environment. The skills and insights you gain can be directly applied to your primary role, making you a more effective and versatile leader.

5. Learn How to Ask for Money

Almost all non profit organisations are seeking to foster and deepen their donor relationships and board members can play a significant role in this. The challenge is, not everyone feels comfortable asking for financial contributions for a cause. A board role in a non profit setting could be your chance to acquire this skill. This experience enhances your persuasive communication skills, storytelling, and sharing a vision. These are valuable competencies in any leadership position.

6. You Will Have an Experience That Enriches Your Reputation

OK, this one is a bit selfish but it’s true, and it’s okay to be honest about it.

Adding volunteer experience in a Not For Profit board to your resume demonstrates your commitment to social responsibility and continuous learning. It shows potential employers or board members that you have diverse experience and are dedicated to making a positive impact.

7. You Will Meet Interesting People Who Will Add to Your Sphere of Influence.

In our experience, almost without exception, people who join boards are change makers. They have chosen to get off the bench and onto the field. You will be enriched by being in their company.

Nonprofit work attracts passionate, driven individuals from various backgrounds. Partnering with them allows you to interact with and learn from them. Which in turn, broadens your perspective and network of influence in both your professional and personal life.

8. Making an Impact for a Sector That You Care About

Joining a board role in this capacity allows you to contribute meaningfully to causes you are passionate about, creating a sense of fulfilment and purpose. Further, you can impact not only individuals and communities through programs, but also through broader policy and government regulations.

I am recommending that you give some thought to joining the ranks of a role on a board, whether non-profit or otherwise – the benefits to you could be more than you know.

Call me if you are interested in joining a Board of Directors, whether non-profit or otherwise. The benefits could exceed your expectations.

Brooker Consulting are specialists in C-Suite and Board appointments for purpose-led organisations. Please don’t hesitate to contact our team of Executive search professionals who can answer your questions and exceed your expectations.

Leighton Cantrill

Leighton Cantrill


Senior Consultant

m 0493 827 145