Personal Finance

Your Questions Answered: “Should I Join a Junior Board?”

By Craig Styles, Philanthropic Advisor, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Craig Styles, Philanthropic Advisor

What is a junior board?

A junior board is a body of young people (typically <35 years old) that provides support to an organization’s leadership in order to carry the organization’s mission forward.  Other names often used to describe junior boards include advisory council, associate board, youth board, youth council, and youth leadership committee.


24% of millennials prioritize "volunteering" as their preferred way of making an impact.1

What type of support is a junior board expected to provide?

Junior boards are used for a variety of different purposes. Each junior board has its own unique mandate which may include one or more of the following:

  • Recruit and engage young donors and volunteers
  • Advise on strategic decisions and provide a fresh perspective to the board
  • Offer pro bono skills
  • Manage internal projects or campaigns
  • Act as ambassadors for the brand/organization
  • Plan and execute events
  • Support social media efforts and campaigns
  • Develop and manage ad hoc programs such as mentoring

What are the differences among a board of directors, an executive director, and a junior board?

The board of directors
  • Composed of industry leaders or laypeople
  • Has a legal duty of care, loyalty and obedience toward the organization
  • Responsible for management, legal, and financial oversight
  • Maintains absolute power in making important strategic decisions
Executive director
  • Paid professional on staff
  • Executes the policies, programs and initiatives that the board of directors sets
  • Involved with day-to-day operations and management of staff or volunteers
  • Works with the board of directors to create strategic and fundraising plans
Junior board
  • Group of young professionals
  • Has no fiduciary responsibility or governing power
  • Provides suggestions and advice to the board on decisions and programming
  • Supports board of directors and executive director in executing and managing projects

What are the benefits of being a junior board member? 

Being a junior board member offers many benefits from both professional and personal development standpoints:  

  • Professional development opportunities:
    • Exposure to high-level operations including governance issues, budgeting, event planning, and fundraising efforts
    • Opportunity to assume responsibilities and hone skills usually reserved for professionals with more experience, such as public speaking and team leadership
    • Ability to develop a network of well-established, reputable professionals
  • Personal development opportunities:
    • Opportunity to support a cause you are passionate about or learn more about a cause you are new to
    • Ability to develop and grow a network of other civic-minded, high-performing peers
    • For family foundations, to engage with older family members and other young family members, as well as share family values across generations

“Joining the Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) Advisory Council gave me an opportunity to network with talented people and connect with leadership at Fortune 500 companies whom I would have never otherwise crossed paths with. It gave me a chance to develop skills in fundraising, team building, and strategizing, while learning the different aspects that are involved in setting goals for the organization.”

- Tess M.

“Serving on the Americas Society Young Professionals of the Americas Steering Committee is both a personally rewarding and professionally enriching experience. I have the opportunity to work alongside Latin America’s most promising millennial leaders for a cause I deeply care about while learning from the organization’s board leaders and other prominent industry advisors.”

-Ashley R.

How do I get the most out of being on a junior board? 

  • Start locally. Time is your most constrained resource, so start locally to ensure that you don’t compromise your ability to show up and deliver.
  • Align your philanthropic work with your career and professional skills. Consider how you can best support a nonprofit with your skill set. As a young professional, a nonprofit environment can give you the opportunity to learn new skills that are usually reserved for professionals with more experience while further honing skills you previously developed.
  • Take advantage of available resources. If you are still in school, take advantage of available coursework such as classes focused on nonprofits, (social) entrepreneurship and management.
  • Use your insider status to become a more effective philanthropist. As a junior board member, you will gain unparalleled insight into the operations and day-to-day management of the organization. Don’t waste the opportunity to apply this knowledge to your own philanthropy so you can become a more informed patron and donor.
  • Write a public narrative. This can be a helpful exercise when you are applying to a junior board as a young professional with a limited resume and budget. A good narrative addresses three key perspectives:
    1. Who are you as an individual?
    2. What can you do for their organization and what value could you bring?
    3. What can you do for the community that their organization represents?


“Being on the Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) Advisory Council gives me the opportunity to work for a cause that is important to my family and to me.  I am meeting other passionate, young people and learning how to fundraise, mentor and use social media to further something I believe in. Not to mention, we are having fun!”

-Alex CS.

How to evaluate what type of junior board opportunity is right for you:

Melanie Schnoll Begun, Head of Morgan Stanley Philanthropy Management, recommends asking yourself the following questions when searching for the right opportunity:

There is nothing ‘junior’ about the responsibility of sitting on a junior board.

 - Melanie Schnoll Begun
Head of Morgan Stanley Philanthropy Management


Contact your FA to learn more about how you can get involved in philanthropy and explore junior boards.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC ("Morgan Stanley"), its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors and Private Wealth Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Clients should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving trust and estate planning, charitable giving, philanthropic planning and other legal matters.

CRC 2645609 7/19

1 The Next Generation of American Giving. Blackbaud Institute. (2018)

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