Nonprofit Boards Offer Career Boosts for Executives

Nonprofit board experience can help senior managers strengthen their leadership skills and connections with high-powered players. They may get to “display abilities they don’t demonstrate at their employer, such as strategic planning or fundraising,” says Marilyn Machlowitz, an executive recruiter who works only with nonprofits. But unpaid nonprofit directorships often require considerable time and money, making it critical to choose the right one, experts say. Ideally, an executive “is really, really driven by passion to join a board” and works for a company also committed to that cause, says Joan Garry, a strategic adviser for nonprofits. One-fourth of nonprofit board members took seats to advance professional or personal interests, concluded a recent survey of 2,302 directors at 84 major U.S. nonprofits by recruiters Russell Reynolds Associates Inc. Most of those polled were corporate executives.

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