I do a number of chatting with professionals, together with attorneys, about demystifying board service. Regardless of how usually I converse, the identical questions usually come up. Some of the widespread is: “Is serving on a nonprofit board a great way to start out a for-profit board journey?” The brief reply is: “Perhaps.” Relying on how nicely the board is run, what you do there, and who else serves with you, serving on a nonprofit board could also be an awesome jumping-off level in your for-profit board service.

However there are two causes I’m at all times somewhat reluctant to reply this query. One, I basically imagine that probably the most highly effective cause to affix a nonprofit board is to serve in pursuit of your robust ardour — not as a mere stepping stone on the way in which to a for-profit board. Two, there are different alternatives the place you can begin your for-profit board journey which may be more practical. Listed below are just a few of those nice alternatives:

Subsidiary Boards of Your Employer

In case you work for a corporation that acquires different corporations, has subsidiaries, or has different associated companies, and you might be in a senior place, think about asking to serve on a board of administrators of a type of associated companies. This can be a comparatively secure technique to get into board service since you are already conversant in the enterprise, trade, and foremost stakeholders. The choice-makers could also be excited that you simply’ve volunteered for an additional project. They might even be glad to advertise or offer you this recognition when there is probably not different apparent alternatives to take action.

Overseas Corporations’ Boards

Many corporations overseas function or do enterprise in america. They usually choose for his or her potential board administrators to (along with having substantive experience within the trade) know america market or perceive the native trade, customs, or regulatory panorama. Furthermore, many corporations exterior of america function in jurisdictions which have express variety necessities (for instance, France requires 30 p.c of its public administrators to be girls). Due to this fact, these international corporations could forged a really broad web and be keen to recruit professionals exterior of their nation once they fill board of administrators positions. Becoming a member of a international personal or public firm board is a wonderful alternative to community, find out about your trade globally, and construct a director portfolio.

Startup Boards

A startup is a brand new enterprise that’s nonetheless being constructed. For brand spanking new entrepreneurs, beginning their very own firm is a big enterprise. Most of them assume {that a} startup board is just not of significance, not less than for the groundbreaking course of. Over time, many startups that survive the primary few years could rethink this place as they educate themselves about their trade, their enterprise, and the worth board members carry. Usually the necessity for a board arises if there may be an investor who calls for {that a} board be shaped. A board can also develop into crucial if an entrepreneur desires to handle sure wants of her firm. The folks an entrepreneur chooses for her board are important to her enterprise’ efficiency. As time progresses, she could must contain extra folks with sure experience, information, or expertise. Executives, senior administration officers, former regulators, and trade leaders are among the many individuals who could also be included on a startup’s board of administrators. They might develop into key determination makers and even be hands-on concerned in a startup. Startup boards usually supply helpful skilled alternatives and are an effective way to start out your board journey. They’re wonderful methods to community, study extra about industries, and construct a profitable document of guiding companies by a important stage.

Advisory Boards (or Councils)

Advisory boards exist to supply high-quality experience to different boards or executives such because the CEO. Advisory boards additionally complement different useful areas of the group, such because the administration crew or job forces. For any startup enterprise, advisory boards ought to be extremely prioritized. One can arrange an advisory board as a part of the preliminary strategy planning stage, however it would usually turn into the pioneer in your group. A well-managed and well-structured advisory board can improve the bandwidth and make sure the proper final result for a company.

These are normally non-governing boards with no fiduciary responsibility. Due to this, some don’t imagine that advisory boards ought to be referred to as boards. Even if you happen to choose to name them “councils” as an alternative of boards, these alternatives nonetheless advantage consideration. Advisory boards usually supply helpful skilled alternatives and are an effective way to start out your board journey. They supply first introduction to company board service. Nevertheless, as a result of these could be so variable, if you happen to be part of one, think about being clear in regards to the expectations and what it is possible for you to to contribute.

Though a nonprofit board stands out as the apparent alternative for beginning your board journey, it’s necessary to solely take that route if you’re really passionate in regards to the trigger. Nonprofit board service is a extremely necessary endeavor in its personal proper, not simply as a stepping stone to a bigger for-profit board service purpose. In case you’re in search of a extra acceptable, and even perhaps extra advantageous “starter board,” check out alternatives falling into one in every of these 4 classes. You’ll not solely give your self an awesome jumpstart in your for-profit board service journey, but in addition guarantee that you’re contributing to the most effective of your skill.


Olga V. Mack is a blockchain strategist, public speaker, and adjunct professor at Berkeley Regulation. She is Vice President of Technique at Quantstamp, the primary decentralized safety auditing blockchain platform. Most lately, she served as Normal Counsel at ClearSlide and she has held authorized and operational roles at Visa, Zoosk, Pacific Artwork League, Wilson Sonsini, and Yahoo. Olga based the Women Serve on Boards motion that advocates for girls to serve on the company boards of Fortune 500 corporations. You may e mail Olga at olga@olgamack.com or comply with her on Twitter @olgavmack.

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