Q: We want to involve a new generation in the foundation. At what age should we welcome new board members?

A: Family boards often agonize over what the minimum age for board members should be. Older family members worry which groups, branches, or people will be included or excluded. Younger family members wonder what will suddenly be expected of them once they reach that looming age. Should you set the standard at the driving age? How about the voting age? The drinking age? The age at which someone could run for President?

The National Center finds that focusing attention on an arbitrarily chosen age of “philanthropic maturity” limits your opportunity to build a great board and prepare potential board members. Instead, consider the larger questions of what kind of board members would best serve the foundation and what kind of commitment you expect from them. Create a trustee job description. Then, you can invite board members who bring the knowledge, skills, abilities, and passions that will make your board a successful one. If setting an age floor—or ceiling—can help you do that, then set one.

Read the full article about board youths by the National Center for Family Philanthropy.