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.
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.”
According to Allgood, the diversification efforts are beginning with women and people of color because Collaboration for Good has some immediate access points with those groups and can work to grow those ties even more after Jan. 19. “I believe that women and people of color are tired of letting others decide their fate. Decisions from health care to job mobility have been in the hands of others for too long.
“So many nonprofits are doing great work, but their work is frequently hindered by missteps and lack of knowledge — from believing that affordable housing is [synonymous with] low-income housing to believing that everyone has access to smartphones and regularly use email accounts to believing that women aren’t smart enough to be in technology,” Allgood adds. “We all have our biases, stereotypes, and misinformation that we carry with us everyday. Working in diverse groups makes it easier to spot when they flare up or are applied without thought.”
Allgood says the ultimate goal for Nonprofit Draft Day is to create a pipeline of qualified board members who are diverse and passionate about serving on nonprofit boards. Event organizers have already started the process with Edgewood College and hope to bring UW–Madison and Madison College on board before branching out to work with a number of the local Chambers of Commerce — both the city/regional chambers and the race/ethnic or other classification chambers (Black, Latino, Hmong, LGBTQ, etc.).
“I want to work with the Urban League, the Progress Center for Black Women, the Hmong Institute, conNEXTions, and more organizations that are working to shape the future of leadership,” notes Allgood. “All that can’t be done at once, but I’m a firm believer in start first, then modify, collect data, and keep modifying.”
Registration for nonprofits and free agents is open now. The deadline for signing up is Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 11 p.m. for nonprofits, and free agents can sign up until the day of the event. College and university students, community members, and professionals are invited to sign up by visiting the Nonprofit Draft Day website at www.nonprofitdraftday.org.
Nonprofit Draft Day takes place on Saturday, Jan. 19, in Predolin Hall at Edgewood College. The event is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to noon. Parking is also free. Professionals, or “free agents,” are encouraged to register in advance, but can show up the day of the event, as well.
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