- The program gives a taste of what it’s like to sit on a not-for-profit board.
- Successful candidates become familiar with a not-for-profit entity.
- A year-long mentorship with an experienced board member is part of the package.
By Fiona Smith
Mentor: Stephen Bushell FCA
Managing partner, DFK Gooding Partners; board member, Ronald McDonald House, Perth
Jarrod is my fourth mentee in the Not-for-profit Board Experience Program. I’m hugely passionate about helping young people develop and stretch and achieve their goals – it’s part of the role that I play as managing partner at my firm. So, for me, it was a no-brainer to get involved.
All the mentees that I’ve had have all been very different, but they all have a genuine interest in philanthropic work and they want to understand a little more about that.
Ronald McDonald House Charities provides accommodation for families with sick children from regional areas. Typically, the Royal Flying Doctor Service flies down a child with a family. They’ll turn up to the hospital and they’ve got no accommodation. Quite often, they’ll either sleep at a friend’s on the couch or they’ll hunker down in the hospital on a spare bed, or somewhere else.
We offer them the chance to have accommodation and be part of a broader family program. Some people are there overnight and some people are there for a couple of years.
Jarrod has seen the board working during the extraordinary time of COVID-19, where we have had to make decisions about what to do during lockdowns.
You may have to turn away families, but the kids don’t stop getting sick. I’ve been a board member for seven years and I can guarantee we didn’t have these sorts of discussions in the first five years. We’re now in a much more dynamic world.
This Not-for-profit Board Experience Program differs from other mentoring I’ve done, where mentees are there because they are trying to forge their careers, move up the corporate ladder, and build their networks.
When you step into this not-for-profit space, you’re there for different reasons. We don’t get paid, so we’re certainly not there for the money. We are there for the purpose.
Picture: Stephen Bushell FCA. Image credit: Mark Brierley.
“When you step into this not-for-profit space, you’re there for different reasons. We don’t get paid, so we’re certainly not there for the money. We are there for the purpose.”
This mentorship is my way of giving back. If I reflect on how I ended up where I am now, not only did it come out of sheer hard work and determination, but also from a few key people that I regard as mentors – even though I probably would never have told them that at the time. So I’ve got lots of time for people who have ambition and want to forge ahead.
Mentee: Jarrod Chapman CA
Commercial accountant, Mondium, Perth
I’d always considered doing not-for-profit board work later on in my career and the NFP Board Experience Program is a great way to get a bit more understanding and insight into what is involved. It is early exposure to something I want to do in the future.
Picture: Jarrod Chapman CA. Image credit: Mark Brierley.
“It is early exposure to something I want to do in the future.”
The program includes five seminars, with a test after each one. So, effectively, I’m getting a qualification in board governance for non-profit companies from the Governance Institute.
With Stephen Bushell as my mentor for this year, I attend the monthly board meetings and some of the subcommittee meetings for Ronald McDonald House Charities.
My first introduction to Stephen was on a call, where we talked about my expectations of the program. He gave me a lot of background information on the charity and organised a tour of Ronald McDonald House next to the Children’s Hospital in Perth.
Stephen is very easy to talk to. He’s the treasurer of that board and he gives me a debrief after every meeting to tell me what he’s been thinking.
He is a sounding board for me because it’s daunting to go into a board meeting for the first time when you feel like you don’t really know what’s going on. In addition, he’s got a lot of commercial and accounting expertise across multiple industries. With all that, he’s able to provide a lot of insight into my career.
After the formal mentoring program finishes at the end of the year, I expect Stephen and I will continue to catch up every now and then. We don’t work together, so he’s a mentor for any sort of career questions or professional advice.
I wouldn’t say this experience has changed my timeline for sitting on a board, but I would like to become more involved, earlier, with general non-profit work if I can.
Picture Stephen Bushell FCA and Jarrod Chapman CA. Image credit: Mark Brierley.
Not-for-profit Board Experience Program
Are you on a not-for-profit board or looking to gain experience in the space? The Not-for-profit Board Experience Program is for early and mid-career CAs who want to gain first-hand experience on a not-for-profit board as an observer.
The program seeks mentors who are board members of not-for-profit organisations, to build a rewarding relationship with the observer, and help them develop skills to make a positive impact on their communities.