Every day across Iowa men, women and youth volunteer their time and skills to help local organizations. It is this personal commitment that helps communities across the state strengthen their social capital – the networks and connections that help them thrive. A report released last year by the Corporation for National and Community Service, “Volunteering in America,” ranks Iowa second only behind Utah in volunteerism. In 2009, 907,000 Iowans contributed 109.4 million hours of service. When you consider that the value of one hour of volunteerism is $20.85, the economic and social impact is staggering.
Many of those volunteer hours are contributed by individuals serving on nonprofit community boards. “Volunteers represent the voice of nonprofits,” said Jim Patton, ISU Extension’s Region 7 director for Hamilton, Humboldt, Webster, and Wright counties in north central Iowa. “They help educate the community about the organization, showing its value and importance.” But many nonprofit boards across the state, particularly those in rural areas, are finding it difficult to replace existing members when they retire or move on. Advance planning is critical to leadership succession.
In response to this need, ISU Extension recently offered two sessions in Region 7 to help local leaders explore the process. Presenter Kim Anderson-Heller, Vezeto leadership consultant, helped participants think about the needs of their boards, how to find new members, and qualities they should have. “Success without a successor is failure. You always need to be thinking about who is going to fill your shoes,” she said.
Participant Amy Doolittle, a recent college graduate, said she attended the sessions to learn more about civic engagement. The first step, according to Anderson-Heller, is to get involved in something you love and care about, and then connect with others who have the same passion. “It’s all about relationships,” she added.
A community organization is only as strong as the leadership behind it. …without a strong board, you don’t have a strong direction.- Amy Doolittle, Hamilton County participant
Other ISU Extension leadership development resources, such as Developing Dynamic Leaders, are available. Contact your local ISU Extension office for information.
For more information, contact:
Jim Patton, ISU Extension Region 7 Education Director, 515-576-2119, firstname.lastname@example.org