Raise Your Hand & Ask

By Megan Willome

Two professionals share their passion for board service

Serving on a nonprofit board is rewarding in two ways: one personal and one communal, says Carolyn Haferkamp, president and chief lending officer of Central National Bank.

“It’ll change the community, and it’ll change you as an individual,” she said.

Haferkamp got into board service through banking.

“That’s part of our role as a banker, serving our community and figuring out how to make our communities better,” she said.

Through Leadership Waco and the Junior League of Waco, she explored where she might want to serve more fully. Currently, Haferkamp is on the executive committee of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.
“I had to pause other things for the Chamber. I am active in the National Charity League and Festival on the Brazos but not on the board.”

She has also served as a board member of Waco Founder Lions Club and Junior League. Through the League, she became involved in the advisory board for the Waco Civic Theatre.

An advisory board is just that — advisory. Its members have expertise, but they don’t govern the organization, as a board of directors does.

Haferkamp says she often encourages people who are considering board service to be “thoughtfully accepting” of the duties.

“You’ll spend a lot of time really putting yourself into it, so you want to enjoy it,” she said. “You should understand what is expected of you if you take that step: to participate actively and follow the bylaws and mission. You really are expected to be an advocate for the organization and to contribute monetarily. That sometimes catches people by surprise.”

Haferkamp says one of the keys to being a good advocate is matching your skills with the organization’s mission.

“A lot of times, especially with younger people, there’s a reflex to say yes and then you get overloaded,” she said. “If you’re saying yes to everything, you’re probably not passionate about anything, not choosing things that are a great match for your skillset.”

But she says if you take the time to look, you’ll find a nonprofit that’s a good match for you.

“Don’t wait to be asked: ask,” Haferkamp said. “The need is there. Connect. Reach out. Maybe volunteer, attend some events, do a little fundraising, get to know the organization proactively. If you’re going to take the next step, you want to understand what it is all about, how they spend their dollars. See if you really do believe in the mission and the leadership. Do the research.”

Sometimes, though, the nonprofit finds you.

J. Tanner Moore, executive vice president and commercial relationship manager at Alliance Bank Central Texas, first got into board service to expand his professional network when he worked in insurance. Soon after, he became involved with March of Dimes after his twin girls were born prematurely and he began to appreciate the group’s mission in a more personal way.

He currently serves as chairman, Heart of Texas Fair & Rodeo; chair-elect, United Way of McLennan County; and he is the incoming president of Partners-Friends of McLennan County. He limits himself to three board commitments at a time, but once he cares about a group, it’s hard to say no.

“I think the lesson most organizations have learned is the more passionate you find someone is about an organization or a cause, they’ll do anything for them,” Moore said. “Habitat for Humanity has found people who will spend all day long in 105-degree heat building houses, because they’re passionate about the cause.”

Moore has more than 20 years of experience on advisory boards and boards of directors, mostly for local causes. He has also served on a state banking board for Texas Bankers Association, and on a national board for the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate school in banking. But his heart belongs to the HOT Fair & Rodeo.

“My boss volun-told me for that organization, but he knew I came from that lifestyle, and it was a great fit to me,” said Moore, who hails from Clifton. “It’s a huge economic driver in the city, gives half a million dollars in scholarships.”

His affiliation with United Way and its partnerships with other agencies has helped him get to know nonprofits he wouldn’t otherwise.

“It would be hard to be involved in 20 boards at the same time,” Moore said.

And every one of those boards is asking the question of how to increase involvement, especially from young professionals. Moore has found an answer in something United Way has modeled for years — strategic community investment.

“We’re building a bigger pond, if you will. Putting people who are passionate about the cause in the pond,” Moore said. “They’re committees, almost smaller advisory boards. We see this helping us drive engagement in key areas where we need extra voices, extra insight.”

Because when you have motivated people involved in an organization, fundraising becomes a lot easier.

“The old way puts a large fundraising burden on a small number of people, rather than spreading it out,” he said. “We try to bring more people on board, get as many people passionate about a cause as we can.”
Often that fire is stoked through story.

“That’s what boards have to do: they have to be able to tell the story. If you can’t tell the story, you’re not gonna build passion,” he said. “We’ve all got vision statements, mission statements. We’ve all read that book. At the end of the day, it’s about the story being told and who’s telling the story. That’s what ignites that first glimmer of passion.”

His involvement with Partners-Friends of McLennan County, a group he says, “flies under the radar,” is a more recent discovery. Member dues go toward a giant cookout, which they host five or six times a year at different locations. One lunch feeds a local manufacturer’s entire employee base.

“We cook 300 rib eyes and potatoes and green beans, maybe. To hear employees say, ‘Thank you.’ And we’re wanting to say, ‘Thank you for living here and going to our grocery stores and sending your kids to our schools,’” he said. Moore feels fortunate to live in Waco, a city with so many strong nonprofits. Every one needs people who are willing to serve.

“Somebody in Waco is involved in an organization you want to be involved in or knows how to put you in touch with someone,” he said. “If you want to get involved, just raise your hand and ask.”