What does serving on a board or committee mean?

Did you get that call, too? You have been asked to run for a position on the board of the genealogical or historical society, the friends of the library, or maybe at your church or school. If you feel flattered, that’s wonderful. If you feel that it’s nice, that’s great, too. If you don’t understand or really feel that it is a responsibility, that’s not so great.

While I was listening to the FGS My Society radio show today and heard Janet Havorka, President of the Utah Genealogical Association, talk about UGA planning and activities, she mentioned their great and active board. They have ideas and people are doing things! That’s the way it should be.

I have or am serving on boards or committees for a state genealogical society, an ethnic genealogical society, a genealogy library, several national level genealogical and professional organizations, a county historical society, my school reunions, a school my children attended, and some other places. Sure this does add to my visibility as a professional genealogical researcher, lecturer, and consultant. But this service also gave me a confidence boost, added to my business knowledge, my research knowledge, my circle of friends, and has allowed me to give back to the various communities in which I am involved.

You are a face of that organization whether you want to be or not! What you do, don’t do, say, or don’t say affects you, the organization, and how your fellow volunteers think about you. How many people are involved in running whatever organizations you belong to? Have you ever offered your time? Maybe you aren’t ready to step up to be the President or Chairman, but what knowledge, time, and friendliness can you offer? Do it now and you will reap great rewards. A few caveats, though:

  • It does take time, so accept whatever jobs you can truly give the time to
  • Agree to run for that position only if you are ready to really participate
  • Participating is more than just being present, you need to be involved
  • Ask for details before you run for a position or agree to serve on a committee
  • It’s like a regular paid job, you can get fired from a volunteer job for ignoring duties!
  • If you agree to do a specific task, actually do it and on time (or reasonably close)
  • Do this because it will add to your comfort level of being around people
  • Be honest. If a deadline is approaching or something you promised to do just isn’t going to happen, let the others know about it. Maybe someone else can step in or at least assist.
  • Show up for committee and board meetings
  • Be visible as a participant at events the organization produces (after all, if you aren’t participating why should anyone else?)
  • Let others know about that organization, it aims, and events. That’s part of being a good volunteer, too.
  • Don’t disappoint others on that committee or board. They have things that goof up their schedules too! It’s called life.

Within any organization, there is some discussion “behind the scenes” and you don’t want to be the person with whom they feel some disappointment. In that vein, don’t bite off more than you can chew!

Now I better go check my task list to make sure I am not disappointing any of the organizations that I have promised time and knowledge to. I don’t want to disappoint my friends.

© 2011 – 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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