When Brittany Fitzgerald was ten years old, her little brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball. Her brother went through maximum-dose chemotherapy, as well as radiation and multiple brain surgeries. During the year he lived in the pediatric intensive care wing, Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers visited her brother’s bedside, and granted him a wish — enabling the family to take him to Disney World. Make-A-Wish gave the family a sense of hope and something to look forward to in one of their darkest moments. Brittany became passionate about supporting Make-A-Wish, launching student chapters in school. Now, as a professional at Goldman Sachs, she chairs the Make-A-Wish NYC Under-40 Board.

Associate boards, like the Make-A-Wish NYC Under-40 Board, are non-governing boards comprised of young professionals who support nonprofits with fundraising and advocacy efforts. They are called by many names — junior boards, emerging leaders council, young professional boards, advisory boards, nextgen groups — and exist at different stages of development depending on the organization with which they work. But one fact remains consistent: they have the potential to both raise substantial funds and cultivate the next generation of donors for the organization.

Make-A-Wish NYC Under-40 Board, for instance, raised $250,000 in a single day at their event “Toast to Wishes.” GenR, the nonprofit associate board associated with The International Rescue Committee, raised over $400,000 in 2017.

In September, IVY convened more than 30 speakers and over 80 nonprofit representatives in seven major U.S. cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., and Miami) to learn more about this space. The purpose of the events was to bring together the top associate boards in each city to teach IVY members how to launch, run, and grow successful nonprofit associate boards. Discussions focused on opportunities to become more impactfully involved with nonprofits in our communities, and the personal fulfilment that comes with taking on a leadership role at one of these organizations.

Panelists at the IVY Philanthropy Forum in Los Angeles.

Key Takeaways

Associate Boards Provide Substantial Fundraising Contributions

Unlike a Board of Trustees, associate boards have no governing or fiduciary responsibility for the nonprofits. Successful associate boards typically have staff leaders who see the value in tapping into the millennial drive to engage with causes. Nonprofits with successful associate boards often provide a staff member to serve as a liaison between the associate board, the nonprofit, and the governing board.

In the last few years, associate boards have been launching and growing rapidly. Pressure from young professionals seeking meaningful ways to get involved with issues they are passionate about has served as a driving force in the formation of these associate boards. Nonprofits often prioritize fundraising as a priority for associate boards. Make-A-Wish NYC Under-40 Board has brought in over $2.5 million since the inception of its event “Toast to Wishes,” which hosts 650 young professionals annually.

They Can Provide Engaging Programming

Associate boards can be highly rewarding for members, both personally and professionally. Depending on their stage of development, strong associate boards can go beyond fundraising efforts and provide engagement opportunities for young professionals to volunteer, attend educational talks, network, and advocate.

Photo cred: UNICEF USA.

Kimberly Ovitz, Chair of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Humane Generation Los Angeles committee, elaborated on her experience supporting The HSUS: “To be able to connect with like-minded young activist entrepreneurs, and inspire and empower them with ways to get more involved, and together help fight the fight leveraging all of our strengths – there is no better feeling.”

Find Out the Requirements Needed to Join

Many associate boards are looking for new members, and each board requires different levels of financial and time commitments. For example, GenR members can join and attend volunteering and social events, while another tier of leaders take on more responsibility with a $1,500 “give-or-get” commitment (through donations or fundraising), quarterly meetings, and hosting one event per year.

At Make-A-Wish NYC Under-40 Board, the requirements include a 10K wish pledge to be paid out within four years through fundraising and donations. Members must also be trained and active “wish grantors,” and are required to give or get $3,500 annually via partnerships, sponsorships, in-kind donations, and fundraisers.

Nonprofits Featured at IVY’s Philanthropy Forums

Back on My Feet is a national non-profit organization focused on helping homeless people gain independence, living skills, and connect them with essential community resources.

Baptist Health South Florida is a not-for-profit healthcare organization in the Miami and South Florida area with expert doctors, hospitals, urgent care and outpatient centers.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help all children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with volunteer mentors.

Chapman Partnership is a Miami-based organization that provides a comprehensive support program to the homeless, that includes emergency housing, meals & job placement.

Children’s National Health System is the premier provider of pediatric care in the Washington, DC, & metropolitan area, and is ranked among the top 10 children’s hospitals and #1 in the nation for Neonatology.

City Year is an organization working to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support that students actually need, and what their schools are designed and resourced to provide.

Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit organization that helps families build stronger foundations for the future in your community and around the world.

JDRF is the leading global organization funding Type 1 diabetes (T1D) research.

Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit that arranges experiences described as “wishes” to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is the oldest and largest private agency in Florida to serve people of all ages who are blind and visually impaired.

Minds Matter transforms the lives of accomplished high school students from low-income families by broadening their dreams and preparing them for college success.

Ronald McDonald House allows families to access specialized medical treatment for children by providing a place to stay at little or sometimes no cost.

St. Anthony Foundation’s professional and structured volunteer program provides volunteers with educational experience and opportunities in San Francisco.

The American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education in the United States.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization.

The International Rescue Committee is a global humanitarian aid, relief, and development nongovernmental organization.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center is the world’s largest provider of programs and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations program headquartered in New York City that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.

United Way Worldwide is a nonprofit organization that works with almost 1,200 local United Way offices throughout the country in a coalition of charitable organizations to pool efforts in fundraising and support.

Cover photo cred: Team Fox, Michael J. Fox Foundation.

IVY’s mission is to educate and inspire future leaders. To become a part of our community and attend social impacts events near you, please visit IVY.com.