Are You On Board? Nonprofits and Gen Z in 2020

Show up or shut up! Which are you choosing in 2020?

Recently, one of our fearless leaders, Jimmy Comer, decided to show up in a big way at BoardSource. If you’re not familiar with this Washington D.C.-based group, their mission is to inspire and support excellence in nonprofit governance and board and staff leadership. In other words, they help people like the Community First nonprofit leaders and staff learn how to lean in, show up, and take action in their roles. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road for leading and making a difference in the world of nonprofits.

Practicing what we preach is a big part of Community First! To become a better leader on the boards on which he serves, Jimmy didn’t just show up at BoardSource. He spent three days there and earned his Certificate of Nonprofit Board Consulting. This program for nonprofit consultants is designed to better meet the ongoing need for governance training. Spending three days in D.C. away from home was worth every minute because Jimmy is bringing what he learned on the job with the awesome nonprofits we work every day.

While at BoardSource, Jimmy had a huge AHA moment! “During the certification program, we talked about the traits needed for nonprofit boards. Passion and dedication are a must! And then someone talked about Millennials and Gen Z.”

Through a discussion at BoardSource, Jimmy realized that the first members of Gen Z, who were born in and after 1997, are starting to graduate from college. “I was surprised at first! Here I was thinking that Millennials were the youngest ones eligible for nonprofit boards. But watch out Millennials! You’re not the youngest ones anymore!”

Jimmy has a great point. Since the first wave of Gen Z is graduating from college, they are a great source of board talent that nonprofits need to consider. According to Business Insider, “Generation Z, is the youngest, most ethnically-diverse, and largest generation in American history, comprising 27% of the US population. Gen Z grew up with technology, the internet, and social media.” Unfairly stereotyped as “tech-addicted, anti-social, or ‘social justice warriors,’” Gen Z is actually quite passionate about showing up and making a difference in their communities.

If you need an example, think about Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish Gen Z’er who is an environmental activist. She has argued for change at Swedish Parliament and the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Whether you agree with her stand on climate change or not, you cannot argue the influence she has. In fact, she was recently featured on Time magazine’s cover as “The Person of the Year” for 2019.

So if you’re involved with a nonprofit as a board member or staff leader, and you want to bring on board members who have passion and support their community, consider recruiting members of Gen Z to join you. Bring them on board!

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