The Ripple Effect of Generosity: How Board Member Volunteerism Propels Nonprofits into the Future

Apr 20, 2023 | Thought Leadership

According to recent data, the Independent Sector values each volunteer hour at $31.80. Some might say this is way too high, and it exaggerates the impact of a volunteer’s time. However, we see things differently. You know those board members who seem to be on every board but hardly ever attend a meeting? We all know at least one, right? It feels like they’re everywhere. But the reality is that board members are the backbone of many small to mid-sized nonprofits, doing all the heavy lifting.

This is particularly true for us at STEM Greenhouse. As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we want to shine a light on the hidden impact of board members’ volunteerism. The dedication of a great board member not only drives the mission forward but also sparks a chain reaction that exceeds a measurable value. 

Conventional wisdom dictates that Board members are recruited for their time, talent, or treasure. In many ways, this approach makes sense – you want members who have the time to serve, the knowledge or skills to advance the organization, or the financial means to support its growth. But, we believe there’s a crucial missing ingredient. What is it? What are we lucky enough to have in our Board members that catalyzes amplified impact?


We believe passion stands out as the most crucial attribute, surpassing time, talent, or treasure. Board members who are passionate about our mission will find time even when it’s scarce and fundraise with unwavering enthusiasm. A genuine passion for the mission paves the way for significantly better outcomes and sparks transformative movements.

Red wooden heart with "Volunteer" label

So, what does passion look like for our Board, and how does it translate into impact? Take Sarah*, for example, one of our devoted board members. Her passion for STEM education has helped us forge new partnerships, create collaborative projects, and open doors for our students to gain hands-on experience with highly-skilled, qualified instructors. Sarah’s unwavering commitment to our mission has led to tangible outcomes far beyond her volunteer hours’ value. Sarah’s passion enriches our students’ lives but also inspires other volunteers and staff, generating a cycle of enthusiasm that fuels our organization.

We are also grateful that our Board members are also deeply invested in building a more inclusive and equitable future. Their tireless work to promote and grow STEM Greenhouse helps ensure that our programs can reach the communities that need them most. This dedication to diversity and inclusion has undoubtedly amplified the impact of our work, making our work transformative and change-making in the West Michigan education landscape.

So as we’re celebrating this week, we want to express our deepest gratitude to our Board members, who embody the spirit of passionate volunteerism. Their unwavering dedication and commitment have propelled STEM Greenhouse into the future, creating ripples of positive change in the lives of countless students and shaping the next generation of STEM leaders. So, while the Independent Sector may value each volunteer hour at $31.80, we firmly believe that the true impact of our Board members’ passion and generosity is, in fact, priceless.

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AI might not be quite there yet, but with a more diverse STEM community, we will get there!

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