Being involved on the board of a business or charitable organization it is a great way to boost your visibility in the business community. It also helps promote the common good. Shoot, it is often fun and educational at the same time!
While it is common that organizations do not put direct competitors on the same board, your participation does not mean that you "own" the group where you volunteer. Sure, you might have an exclusive to serve on the board (which is fine), but you cannot and should not think that your position will eliminate your competition from participating in events or from ending up as a speaker for the group's meetings if they are well suited for giving such a presentation.
I recently heard of a local business professional who had a fit when one of his competitors was the presenter at a meeting of an organization where he volunteers. He felt that the programs committee should have asked him to speak or skipped having his industry represented at all on the panel discussion.
I have also been passed over for speaking opportunities and told that while the organization thought I was a great speaker who could benefit the group, they did not want to make my competitor mad by giving me the publicity.
With this philosophy, nobody should ever be asked to speak at any event, as somewhere they have a competitor who might be bent out of shape!!!
I see many groups tip toe around whom they can have as panelists for fear of offending someone else, rather than looking for the best speakers possible. When organizations have great programs, they have better attendance. The big name company, individual or topic makes or breaks the success of a meeting. I think organizations should seek out the most qualified speakers they can and not worry so much about what individual member or volunteer might think.
Mr. Spock said it best at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few".
While I hate to see my competition on a panel where one of my team could have been featured, at the end of the day, the world is not a zero sum game. There are lots of chances for everyone who is qualified to have their time at the podium. Sure it hurts egos, and you can wish it was you on stage....but for the love of Pete.... do not run around complaining about it. Your membership in a group or your volunteer hours does not equal ownership of an organization. Maybe your competitor was just a better choice for that presentation!!!
Remember that if you complain about the publicity the organization ("your" organization) gives the competitor...those who hear your whining will provide you with LOTS of "word of mouth marketing" (the bad kind) when they tell others all about your tirade. Best to seek out your own speaking opportunities than to try to stop your competitors from having the spotlight (or complaining when they do).
I was recently very impressed when an executive that I know recommended that her direct competitor be included in a local program / presentation. She was involved in the planning, but a set of circumstances came up that made sense for the CEO of another company in her industry to share the platform. In this unique case she knew it was the "right" thing to do to be inclusive. Sure, it meant some stage time for the competition, but she did not let that impact her desire to make sure the event was executed properly (I am purposely being vague, as I was told of this situation in confidence).
I am involved in several business organizations and I do prefer to see that my company would have the limelight and PR from my involvement. However, on those occasions when my competitors are in the spotlight, you wont hear me complain (although I still want to).
I am confident that my firm will outshine all others in the long run.
A note to organizations and planners.... do not give your sponsors and volunteers the impression that their time and money can buy your integrity. News organizations have a wall between editorial and advertising to protect their credibility. Once you sell yourself for the money or time, you will forever cheapen your value to everyone. Yes, there are times when exclusive sponsorships make sense, as those whose dollars support the event want something in return for their sponsorship, but beware of how far you are willing let their money dictate your actions. It is a fine line.
Can sponsorships buy speakers slots, yep...it happens all the time. But be sure that it is clear to your audience, or you run the risk of looking cheap. If your group offers exclusivity to your sponsors but does not make that clear, then those who find out will think less of your organization.
Have A Great Day.