How to Serve Your Business and Your Community by Taking on a Volunteer Leadership Role

 In Blog Post, Hank Yuloff, Non Profit
[If you listened to this week’s radio show at entitled

Sitting on a Non-Profit Board; Serving the Cause and Your Bottom Line

you heard us talk about this blog post.]

There are a lot of rewards that you can generate for your business by taking a leadership role in community and industry organizations and non-profits. Let’s talk about some of the best ways to make the experience as rewarding as possible for the organization, and frankly, for you and your business.

Service to your community — whether as a volunteer for a non-profit organization or association — not only helps advance your core values, but it also provides immeasurable benefits to you and your company.

When I have asked people to join non-profit boards, the first thing that I get told is that the person is too busy. You may think that you’re too busy or too stressed to commit to such an undertaking. But the key to success lies in learning to adapt.

non profit Encino Chamber of CommerceWe speak from experience: I have been board president of a chamber (and on that board for two decades) and a statewide promotional product non-profit association (and membership for 6 years). I served on a second chamber board, a private school board and Sharyn and I both served on a Los Angeles Neighborhood Council for 6 years each. Sharyn has been on 3 boards, including the non-profit International Child Advocacy Network ( since 2002. non profit Yes ICAN teddy bear award for Sharyn Yuloff

We’d like to share some of our best methods to encourage you to serve in leadership positions and to make your experience rewarding. Before I begin, let me tell you up front: when you join a board, there is NOTHING in ANY rule book that says you and your business cannot PROFIT from the experience of volunteering with a non-profit while you give back to the communities you serve. Here are some of the lessons we have learned.

Learn to Budget Your Time

Since I brought this up first, let’s talk about it first. With more things on your plate, you’ll need to get really good at planning your daily schedule and sticking to it.

Make to-do lists that spell out how much time you’re going to devote to each of the day’s priorities. Set aside certain times of the day to check email. That way you won’t get distracted by each new email as it arrives in your inbox. Set expectations with your clients and colleagues, giving them an alternate way to reach you in case of a true emergency.

If you want some time management tips, connect with us and we will get you a list of ours. There have also been tons of books written on the subject. Remember that your schedule is different than everyone else’s, so understand that some tips that work for others will not work for you and you will probably come up with many that are unique to you.

First of all, remember that your clients and your family must remain top priorities. Always be realistic about the amount of time you ask new board members to devote and the same goes for yourself. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by all the extra work and responsibility, ask for help from others on that board. Better earlier than later.

We suggest that you remember to block out time for personal time. Each family is different, and Sharyn and I are admittedly not the best at this part, but it works for us. Stay happy.

Learn How to Create Committees and Adequately Delegate the Work

When you initially join a board, it may take a while to get acclimated to your surroundings. Eventually, you will move up on ‘the depth chart’ toward leadership. Serving in a leadership role with a nonprofit is a great opportunity to hone your leadership skills. When chairing a board or committee, you’ll achieve more by spreading the work around to those on the team who are best-suited to the task. The main reason for this is that every one of you on the board have your own businesses to run and can only give so much time to the organization. Remember the expression “Many hands make light work” and you will be on the right course.

The same goes for building relationships with association staff. Don’t be afraid to put your faith in the professionals who work full-time for the organization for operational tasks. That way, you can stay focused on the big picture. They have organizational memory that is vital to its survival.

Here are some tips for delegation of your team and your non-profit:

  1. Get everyone on the same page.
  2. Set goals that are clear and reachable.
  3. Make sure your deadlines are clear.
  4. Outline all the resources available to make things happen.
  5. Prioritize each goal.
  6. Check in during the process.
  7. Evaluate as you go: what are we doing right, wrong, what can we do better, where do we go next?

Another thing – with some organizations, travel is going to be necessary. In Los Angeles, that meant extra time in traffic. For example, once a month, I had to cross the San Fernando Valley in rush-hour traffic for a 2 to 3 hour board meeting in Burbank. That’s a 6 to 7 hour time gap. There were also weekends out of town. Before you jump on to a board, ask about travel and include it in your decision making. Also, ask who pays for that travel.

It’s OK to Benefit by Being a Volunteer

Don’t forget why you took on this challenge in the first place. While the reasons will vary from person to person, we all want to make the world a better place and to grow as leaders in our communities.

We also think that serving on boards of directors gives you financial opportunities as well. It gives you license to call any of your target market business owners in the organization as a board member just to discuss what is going on in the group and offer your assistance to them in generating revenue.

Now, lest you think I am just using service as a profit point, let me end this with this message: When you come to The Small Business Marketing Plan bootcamp, there is a section in which we talk about public service. We feel that it is vital for each of us to be involved in the communities where we live and work.  We applaud companies that are involved. We encourage each of our private coaching clients to find a non-profit cause and serve it. Get involved in it. Make it successful. We work hard to set aside time for this volunteer service and think that when done right, you can have both a rewarding and successful experience.

What non-profit board would you like to sit on next? We’d like to help connect you to the right people and prepare for your interview. Connect with us directly by sending an email to We look forward to helping you in every way we can!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Diana Duenas

    Great advice! Thank you for all you do for the Encino Chamber of Commerce… you have spent countless time and money helping us grow and prosper. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship. Thank you for your continued commitment!

    • Sharyn Yuloff

      Thank you, Diana!