By Josephine Victoria Yam, J.D., LLM.
2017 June 13
This is one of the first questions we ask the nonprofit boards we work with for board matching and recruitment at B3 Canada. And most often, the answer we receive is a sheepish no.
“Well, we always talk about how urgent it is to engage Millennials by recruiting them as board directors”, explained one grey-haired 63-year old board chair of a large charity, “but none of us in the board is a Millennial so we don’t know how to best reach out to them.”
Indeed the lack of Millennials on nonprofit boards is pretty stark. Only 16% of nonprofit board directors are under the age of 40, according to Boardsource’s Leading with Intent 2015: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices. Juxtapose this with the overwhelming 68% of board directors who are between 40 to 68 years old.
According to Environics Analytics, Millennials are individuals born between 1981 to 2000. Today, they would be around 17 to 36 years old. There are about 9.5 million Millennials in Canada comprising 27% of the population. They comprise the largest labour cohort in Canada (37%) as compared to Generation X (31%), Boomers (30%) and Pre-Boomers (1%).
Explained the Environics Institute’s 2017 Final Report:
Millennials make up more than a quarter of the Canadian population…[This] cohort of Canadians …is one of the largest in the country’s history, and is literally the country’s future: who they are today and what they become will shape Canada for the next half-century and beyond.”
These three reasons make a strong business case for recruiting Millennials on your board. The Harvard Business Review advises that:
“[Millennials]… set high standards for themselves…They’re used to overachieving academically and to making strong personal commitments to community service. Keep them engaged, and they will be happy to overachieve for you.”
The lack of age diversity on nonprofit boards can no longer be ignored. Because the Millennials are coming. And they are coming fast.
If your nonprofit board fails to recruit Millennials to harness their power to do well and do good, then your board does so at its peril.