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Nonprofit Draft Day returns in search of board recruits

Now in its second year, the event aimed at strengthening, supporting, and changing the face of nonprofit boards is looking for new recruits, particularly women and people of color.

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Madison has one of the most educated talent pools in the state, yet many local nonprofits have board seats that remain unfilled. For the second year in a row, on Jan. 19, Nonprofit Draft Day will seek to fill these open seats through a one-day event linking nonprofit boards to prospective board talent.

Nonprofit Draft Day aims to strengthen, support, and change the face of the nonprofit sector by creating a more skilled and diverse pipeline of potential nonprofit board members who can help shape the myriad nonprofits that provide vital services to the Greater Madison area.

“We’ve just witnessed the most diverse Congress in history get sworn in. Diversity strengthens. We need systems that reflects the world we live in, not the world that was,” says Alnisa Allgood, executive director of Collaboration for Good, a local nonprofit that works on enhancing the region's capacity for social good. “We need women, people of color, and the differently abled to step up and make a difference.”

Collaboration for Good, in partnership with Edgewood College, is the new organizer this year for Nonprofit Draft Day, which offers a new method for recruiting and matching community leaders (“free agents”) with local nonprofits (“talent scouts”).

“Being a newer nonprofit, the 2018 Nonprofit Draft Day was an incredibly beneficial experience for us,” says Taysheedra Noll, founder/executive director of Women’s Place and Resource Center. “I was able to select a board member who was an equal match to what I was looking for and what she wanted. She aligned well with our mission, vision, and values, and has been fantastic to work with. The day also helped expand our social circle.”

During last year’s inaugural Nonprofit Draft Day, 53 nonprofits participated. Around 40 nonprofits found a board candidate, 30 of which announced their candidate the day of the event. Others went through a post-event sign on or passed, notes Allgood. “There was very positive feedback from most of the participating nonprofits, both immediately post event and six months out. While not every match was successful, a number of matches were great, where the new board member has become an invaluable contributor to the organization. This seemed especially true for a few of the newer boards.”

“It’s a wonderful way for professionals and others looking to grow their expertise to find organizations looking for new board members,” says Anna Schryver, senior manager of public relations for Lands' End and a volunteer organizer of Nonprofit Draft Day. “Serving on a board can be a great experience, especially if you can match your skills and expertise to your passion for an issue or organization.”

So far this year, 36 nonprofits and 22 free agents are listed on the website, though this week and next are the event’s strongest recruiting periods, and several more nonprofits and free agents are already in the queue.

The emphasis on diversifying boards of directors is a long-term goal, says Allgood. “While we are putting measures in place this year, I don't expect them to bear fruit until 2020 and beyond. Women and people of color are our starting point for diversifying, but we will also start efforts to reach out to the LGBTQ, disabled, retired professional, and graduate/undergraduate student communities.

“We firmly believe that diverse organizations are stronger, more creative, more innovative, and more impactful,” continues Allgood. “Having a group of people who continuously reinforce the status quo stifles long-term growth and typically restricts the decision-making process to what's been tried and true. This multiplies missed opportunities, and overlooks new needs, concerns, and the ability to respond rapidly to a changing community, which also means changing demographics.”


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