I wrote this piece for my job with Fairfax Library Foundation, and I'm sharing it here because I think board service is important! Fairfax Library Foundation is looking to expand our Board of Directors at the Foundation. Here are the four main reasons professionals should consider board service (and with the library in particular!):
1. Maximize Your Impact in Your Community
The mission of Fairfax Library Foundation is to enhance Fairfax County Public Library. The county only contributes less than 1 cent per tax dollar to the 23-branch library system, but the library provides essential services to our community. The Library is the great equalizer in society—a place where everyone, regardless of age, income or place of birth, is welcome to access free resources and expand his or her mind. Fairfax Library Foundation works to fill that funding gap, supporting programs like Ready to Read Early Literacy, Scholarships, The New American Initiative, 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, Changing Lives Through Literature and Summer Reading, as well as supporting the collection and public presentations.
Volunteering on the Foundation board will put you in a position to serve all of the 1.1 million residents of Fairfax County, by enhancing the library system.
You’ll also maximize your impact through board service. You’ll be asked to utilize your distinct skill set—not just be a body for volunteer hours (always important, but it doesn’t maximize your personal core competency). In board service, we want to leverage your leadership skills and personal expertise. In an average of two to three hours per month, you can have an exponential impact on your community.
Use your full potential to enhance an organization that serves everyone—that’s what serving on Fairfax Library Foundation’s board of directors offers.
2. Build Your Network
In serving on the Fairfax Library Foundation board, you’ll be directly connecting with community leaders from companies and industries that are new to you. You’ll form personal connections with the 12 to 18 other board members, and you’ll also have the chance to connect with County leaders—Fairfax Library Foundation works directly with the Library Board of Trustees and County Supervisors. County and State leaders attend our events, and we invite our board members to help us host special guests at those events.
In addition, we hope that board members will help us connect with businesses in the community to build our corporate sponsorship program. Board members with the desire to connect professionally with others in their field (or searching for a new field) have the perfect excuse for outreach: sharing the work of Fairfax Library Foundation.
3. Strengthen Your Resume
Board service is the new must-have for a stellar professional resume. It’s leadership experience and community service, all rolled into one. And with Fairfax Library Foundation, it’s also valuable experience working with County government. It can be a great stepping stone to public sector work or running for elected office. This is a unique opportunity that’s not part of most nonprofit board service.
4. Engage with Your Community
With more and more interaction happening online these days, many of us feel a growing sense of disconnectedness—even with our immediate communities. The library is a place where people come together, and volunteering to support the library is the perfect way to connect with your community, face-to-face. Serving on the Foundation board offers opportunities to attend library programs and events. Much will depend on your interests: if you have small children, you can learn about all the phenomenal free programming in the library for families and enjoy participating in those programs. If you like meeting smart people, there’s opportunities to personally connect with best-selling authors. If you love your library, this is the perfect place for you. If you don’t love your library—you will, once you find out all there is to offer your community and you personally.
If you’ve ever felt distant from your own community, the library is the place to connect, learn and engage.
If you’re interested in learning more about board service with Fairfax Library Foundation, please contact me at Abigail.Fine@FairfaxLibraryFoundation.org. If you want to join a board in your community, think about starting at your local library!