Board Members Can Have Everyday Impact
The traditional duties associated with serving on a board of directors (setting strategy, reviewing board books, attending board meetings, etc.) can certainly make a difference in an association’s future. However, board members can also make an extraordinary impact by acting as passionate advocates in their day-to-day professional settings. Through interactions with colleagues, and especially with those of younger generations in your profession, board members can collectively, over time, have a significant impact on advancing the mission, awareness and even growth of their organizations.

Most often this is done informally without any specific assignment, and here are some ways you can make that kind of impact.

Shared mission

As an association board member in your workplace, highlighting and discussing the benefits of association membership becomes a lot easier and more comfortable when you focus on the shared missions of both organizations. As the association works to make a difference for its industry, it is also working to make a difference in the day-to-day work of its members. Reinforcing this with your network of friends and colleagues at work — by sharing everything from news about your association’s annual meeting to articles from your association’s publication or e-newsletter — can help convince many of the value of association membership as it relates to their own careers.


Personally participating in association educational programs, either by presenting or attending, gives you first-hand knowledge of the many professional development benefits your association offers. If you are doing that already, consider sharing information of your involvement with those you work with, as well as collaborating with the internal communications or human resources personnel of your organization to spread the word. Younger professionals in particular might also respond favorably to personal invitations from you to attend or take part in association programs.


Particularly in today’s political environment, government-relations-focused advocacy can be an increasingly important element of an association’s work. Association advocacy programs often bring forward the voices of the individual members through their work. Informally, as a board member, encouraging more people to become engaged in the advocacy mission of your association might now be more critical than ever before. Work with your government relations personnel or the appropriate staff liaison to identify areas of need that perhaps your personal contacts can help fill by becoming more informed and engaged.

Professional credentials

Assuming you have earned association-granted credentials that are meaningful to your work, you can share the benefits of such credentialing programs with your workplace human resources and training departments, as well as fellow senior leaders. If you learn that association credentials are not valued as much as you would like in your workplace, seek to understand why that is and share that information with your association staff as a data source so that fixes can be put in place if your situation is not unusual.

Professional relationships

As most board members would agree, perhaps the greatest takeaways of association involvement are the professional relationships that one develops, and board service is often one of the absolute best ways to create great value in that area. You can’t remain on a board forever, though, so who can follow in your footsteps? Grooming a successor from your workplace is often good for both your association and for your place of employment. Beyond board service/committee service, if you don’t already have a younger colleague whom you’re helping to mentor and build their professional relationships, make it your business to identify one (or more) and introduce them to your association friends and colleagues. It will help both parties in powerful ways and ultimately help your association in the future.

These are just starters, but there are of course other day-to-day opportunities you might want to consider to extend your impact beyond the traditional elements of service. And these activities can continue long after the conclusion of your formal role.
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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for 70 years.


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