At the February meeting of the LaunchPad Job Club Board of Directors, I was elected to the post of Vice President.
I haven’t been on the Board for very long (I was elected to the board back in October), but I guess either I don’t duck fast enough, or there is appreciation for the work I have put in as a volunteer over the last year. Apparently the reward for working hard is more hard work! Being Vice President on the board of a small non-profit doesn’t mean just holding a cushy title. And it certainly comes with no monetary reward.
LaunchPad Job Club, which I have spoken of frequently on my blog, is an organization whose mission is to serve people who have lost their jobs by providing education, programs, networking, job leads, and support to help them survive the transition and get them back to work as quickly as possible, all at no cost to the jobseekers.
The February meeting focused on the organization of the organization, as it were. LPJC was formed in 2001 by Kathy Lansford, and she has been running it virtually single-handedly ever since. LPJC became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2005. Because of that status, there have been a number of organizational requirements to fulfill, so the organization has been working on more organized over the last five years. This has become especially important over the last three years since the economy began its freefall, and the number of people being served on a weekly basis increased nearly tenfold. Despite how wonderful and dedicated she is, with growth like that, managing LPJC has moved beyond what Kathy can accomplish by herself.
Up until recently, from what I am told, the role of the Board of Directors has been to handle the accounting, encourage Kathy to more frequently talk about members giving back once they have gotten a job, donate money to the organization themselves, and do anything that they see needs doing. More recently, the Board has been more active and has grown larger than it has been in the past, and is now in a position to help more, take on the additional work necessitated by the increase in the number of people we are serving.
Rather than approach the task of organization from a role-based perspective (ie: the Vice President’s assigned tasks are this, that and the other), we approached the discussion from the perspective of services and requirements (ie: in order to provide this service to the membership, these are the tasks required). Those requirements fall into four broadly defined areas:
- Programs – the heart and soul of the organization. These are the services we provide to the membership, and laid out in the organization’s charter: networking opportunities, training, motivational programs, and other support services.
- Development – how we pay for the programs. Getting grants, holding fundraisers, and encouraging our membership to give back once they are back at work.
- Marketing and PR – how people find out that we’re here to help and the kinds of help we offer.
- Operations – getting it all done. Coordinating volunteers, administering the Board of Directors (“herding the cats”), financial management, strategic planning, and technology management.
While all of this may seem dry and uninteresting to some, just the process of defining these tasks and requirements uncovered areas where opportunities have been missed and areas of improvement for the organization.
I didn’t join the Board for the salary (there is none), or the celebrity (not much of that either), or the cushy role (remember what I said about hard work?); I joined to help people who are going through what I have been through have an easier, less stressful time of it, to help Kathy who has worked so hard to help others for years, and to make it all work better.
It is an opportunity to do what I truly want to be doing.
Jim Adcock is Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Check out other career-related entries.