In the business world, attracting and maintaining good talent remains a core principle of any business. Fact: Generally if you hire good people, retain those people, and treat them right, your business is bound to succeed. So why is it becoming harder and harder to attract and retain good board members?
Is the talent pool thinning out? Is there a societal shift away from the importance of philanthropic participation? Is fatigue setting in? Are we just lazy? Maybe its a combination of all four?
According to a 2013 Stats Can report, not only is the volunteer rate diminishing (47% in 2010 compared to 44% in 2013) but the average annual volunteer hours shrank by 2 from from 156 to 154 in the same time period.1 Furthermore, I would like to turn your attention to the table below which breaks down participation by age gender.
|Total||44||47Note †||46Note †||45Note †|
|Men (ref.)||42||46Note †||45Note †||44|
|Women||45Note *||48Note †||47Note †||47Note *Note †|
|15 to 19||66Note *||66Note *||65Note *||65Note *|
|20 to 24||42||48Note *||47Note *||43Note *|
|25 to 34||42Note *||46Note *||40Note *||42Note *|
|35 to 44 (ref.)||48||54Note †||52Note †||51|
|45 to 54||45||45Note *||48Note *||47Note *|
|55 to 64||41Note *||41Note *||40Note *||42Note *|
|65 to 74||38Note *||40Note *||40Note *||39Note *|
|75 and over||27Note *||31Note *||29Note *||23Note *Note †|
The greatest "swing" in participation from 2010 to 2013 exists in the 35-44 age range. I'll call this the "wheel house". This is age group who ideally would have the greatest impact on participation at a board level. By 35, the volunteer would have approximately 10 years of training and professional experience in their field, and would have a lot to contribute to the board. They would also have the necessary energy and commitment level required to make a significant impact at the board level. While mandatory participation still exists for the younger cohort (i.e. high-school credits for volunteering) of greater concern should be the shrinking participation numbers of those aged 65-75 who would also have a negative impact on the ability to recruit persons to sit on a board. By 65, it is likely the potential board member is retired and likely, highly expericenced and looking to continue their civic duty by volunteering. Or are they??
Based on the numbers above, I'm of the conclusion that the same "competition" that exists in the business world to attract and retain great employees has permeated to the non-profit world. The talent pool is shrinking, the amount of volunteer hours is shrinking, and the "wheel-house" candidates are becoming harder and harder to find. The particupalar client that I was meeting with currently had two vacancies in their board and at the time of our meeting was having difficulty locating a board member with a finance and legal background. One would think that these professionals would be readily available in any city and town in Ontario to participate. No?
So how does this impact the broker? How can we help out? I think the answer is simple. While sitting on a board of an active client would constitute a conflict of interest, we do have the ability to assist - maybe the duty to help out. We insure business owners, we have our own network of professionals and we shouldn't be afraid to refer them to non-profits we think could use their assistance. It makes sense for everyone. The non-profit can utilize the expertise of the professional. The professional gets a chance to give back to his or her community and the board becomes more stable. A fully rostered board means more security, stability and more sound decision making. This will lead to fewer "gaps" in knowledge and prevent claims in the long run.
I'll check back next week with the Top 5 things your insurance broker isn't tell you.....