In an effort to fill vacant board seats with members offering diverse perspectives, experiences and skills, several area nonprofit organizations will be part of an open house-style recruitment event Saturday.
One of the goals of the Nonprofit Draft Day, presented by the nonprofit Collaboration for Good, is to connect willing volunteers with small or burgeoning nonprofit organizations. By offering a one-stop shop for volunteer opportunities, potential board members can peruse various organizations to find a good fit, and organizations have an opportunity to find the types of board members they are looking for as well.
Alnisa Allgood, founder and executive director of Collaboration for Good, said another goal of the event is to attract more diverse candidates to nonprofit boards, including women, people of color and people with disabilities.
“A diverse board makes a stronger board (because) boards are able to influence how an organization responds to or relates to people,” Allgood said.
Drawing in board members can be difficult for some nonprofits, Allgood said. If a nonprofit doesn’t have significant name recognition — either because it is new or serves a small or specialized group of people — potential volunteers may not even know there’s an opportunity to become involved.
About 50 nonprofit organizations have registered for the event, according to the event’s website, nonprofitdraftday.org. Potential volunteers will be able to browse those organizations’ information booths at Edgewood College’s Predolin Hall, 959 Edgewood College Drive, and learn more about their missions and needs
Karin Krause, the founder of Hope & a Future, a neighborhood-style residential community housing seniors and young, at-risk families, said it can be difficult to connect with people who have the right experience to guide a nonprofit. She said that as a registered nurse, she saw a need to bring together the mentorship the elderly can provide and the liveliness of young families to benefit both groups, but that her nursing experience doesn’t fully translate into know-how to run a nonprofit.
Board members can fill that gap, Krause said.
“I had a vision, and I had ideas on how to solve a problem, and I think many founders are this way. But you’re not a business person, you’re not a finance person, you’re not a lawyer, and you can’t quite afford to hire those people,” Krause said.
Each organization will have different expectations for board member recruits, Allgood said. Some will seek volunteers who are highly experienced or knowledgeable in the field, while other nonprofits may simply require enthusiasm for their missions.
Nonprofits boards have different roles within each organization as well, Allgood said. Some boards have financial responsibilities, some work on outreach strategies, some analyze nonprofit data and metrics and others guide the direction of the organization.
Many board positions will require about three to four hours of work per month, but members of some more intensive boards could work up to a few hours per week, Allgood said.
Derek Kraemer, who works as an accountant, decided last year that he wanted to volunteer his time in the community. He signed up to attend last year’s draft day — individuals can also sign up the day of the event — and search for an organization he felt passionate about.
“It gave me an easy way to see what type of (volunteering) options were out there, and I could see what organizations needed my financial expertise,” Kraemer said.
Kraemer is now a board member at Hope & a Future and helps with the budgeting and tax process, he said.
Not everyone who approaches a nonprofit’s booth at the draft day will join its board, but they can become part of that organization’s larger network, Taysheedra Noll said. Noll founded Women’s Place and Resource Center in DeForest in 2015 to help women who have overcome crises such as homelessness, unplanned pregnancy or health problems remain on stable footing. Women’s Place works as a services hub where women can find support or be connected to specialized programs.
Since Women’s Place is still a newer nonprofit — beginning its work in earnest in 2017 — Noll said the organization benefits from outreach opportunities like the draft day. Women’s Place found a new board member at last year’s event and also connected with other humanitarians who approached the Women’s Place table.
“Even if they don’t become board members, they become great resources or great volunteers,” Noll said.
Her organization now has four generalized board members, so Noll is looking to expand her board with one or two more members who have more specialized skills, particularly in information technology.
Krause’s board has eight members, but the organization is lacking in communications and marketing strategies, she said, so Hope & a Future will also be looking for a new board member.