Book Post #6: How to engage Gen X & Y as Board and Committee Members

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Larry Berry, Gen X-er and Board member for the Museum of Photographic Arts, who chairs the museum’s young professionals event, POP (Photography off the Prado) Thursdays. In 2008, Berry joined the POP event committee because he wanted to get young people who loved art engaged with museum.

“Young people are craving art and culture in San Diego. The current (MoPA) programs didn’t translate to the younger generation.”

 

The POP event was originally staff driven, but at the end of 2008, the museum saw the need to engage volunteers – Gen X and Yers – to help with the event. Membership Manager, Sue George who oversees the committee commented:

“It was time to bring in outside folks to help bring new energy into the event. So, we outlined a committee description and hand-selected individuals from the community.”

 

Larry was recruited to the POP committee by Chris Kozo, a First Vice President at Wells Fargo, who worked in the same La Jolla business building where Larry works as the senior art director for DC Comics/Warner Brothers.  The two of them would frequently talk about baseball and one day the conversation turned to art, a world that Larry knew very well and worked in as a professional. Shortly, thereafter, Chris invited Larry to join the POP Committee.

The POP Committee is a progressive marketing and outreach group that connects San Diego’s young and art savvy to MoPA. The museum staff recruited Generation X and Yers who had attended the POP events and were interested in further developing these events.  Today, there are a total of ten people – both internal and external – engaged on the committee.

To operate a successful committee, I recommend that at least one staff member be a liaison to the committee to set the agenda, help motivate the committee, find opportunities for each committee member to be engaged and follow through with members to ensure successful completion of tasks. MoPA was nice enough to share their committee description MoPA POP Committee Model.

Ms. George commented that “at the beginning, we didn’t know how we were going to divvy up the (committee) roles, but individuals found that they had specific interests in specific areas.” Each POP Committee member has found a niche where they can use their skills in a very specific way to help the event.

  • Two committee members work on public relations and event logistics to create an ambience that turns the event into a personal art experience for each attendee.
  • One committee member is on the Board of Association of Professional Artists (APA) and she develops new methods to acquire new members.
  • Another member works for a local TV station and helps with the promotion of the event by utilizing social media.
  • Another committee member engages young folks from the hip, downtown scene.

Larry was given an opportunity to lead the committee as the chair the event.  In this role, he was able to shape the event further by working with the core staff and volunteers. Two years later, Larry’s passion and commitment to MoPA was recognized with a Board position. He is now part of the governing body of the organization that sets the strategic direction for the entire organization.

Recruiting Generation X and Yers to committees and Boards is a wonderful way for nonprofit organizations to engage the younger generations.  These young folks can help an organization understand how to engage other young people.  It is key for nonprofits to build support in volunteers and donors when they are young – to build lifelong supporters.


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