Meet Your (Board) Match in Minutes
They meet, chat up their interests and expectations for five minutes, and then move on to the next date. The lucky ones leave with a long list of people to pursue … as potential board members for their nonprofits, of course.
It’s speed dating for nonprofits, and it’s a new way for organizations to find the right board members. Allison Jones, director of the Pittsburgh-based Boards-by-Design, a program of Duquesne University’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute, says the organization holds speed-dating events for nonprofits about four times a year.
“It’s been a huge success,” Jones says. “They meet people they wouldn’t meet through their regular channels.”
The events are held at restaurants, where 20 nonprofit organizations “date” 20 individuals interested in volunteering. Each organization gets five minutes to meet with each individual to explore the chemistry. They talk mission, programs and board responsibilities.
The individuals and nonprofits rate each other, and then Boards-by-Design tallies up the results and lets them know their matches in terms of interests, abilities and experience.
After the initial spark, it’s up to the organizations and the individuals to see if there is any long-term relationship potential. Jones is happy to report that many have moved on to make a commitment, adding that each event results in about 12 board placements.
“It’s been wildly successful,” Jones says. “There is a huge demand. We announce the next date, and it fills up within 24 hours.”
Fortunately, no event has ended with any broken hearts.
“We’ve never not had a match,” Jones says. “We didn’t want anyone to feel bad. We were worried about that. But we find that each person matches with at least one organization.”
The speed-dating concept grew from Boards-by-Design staff, who aim to match nonprofits with potential board members, joking that their work was “like a dating service.” So, Jones says, they decided to take it to the next level.