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Valley Journals

Board Match event connects people, nonprofits in nine minutes

May 09, 2018 03:37PM ● By Lori Gillespie

Thirty-two nonprofits look for new board members at the Westminster Board Match Networking event. (Lori Gillespie/City Journals)

By Lori Gillespie | l.gillespie@mycityjournals.com 

On April 12, Westminster College hosted its 6th Board Match Networking Event. The idea is simple—32 nonprofits meet with 60-plus interested people and hopefully, for both groups, there will be a good match.

Matching can happen in a number of ways. The nonprofits hope to find people who are interested in joining their board, but they also want to get the word out about the work they do for their communities and hopes that people will want to volunteer. Everyone present at the event was ready to connect with new people. 

“I came tonight because I would love to find more ways to give back and volunteer in the community,” said David Blackmer, Master of Strategic Communications[LL1]  Westminster 2014. “I knew about the groups I am interviewing with before tonight, but this format is giving me a good chance to learn more about them and their purpose and ask some very specific questions. Even if I am not selected to be on a board, it gives me an opportunity to contribute and volunteer in other ways which is exciting.” 

The process in which the participants and non-profits met was like speed dating. Each participant could request an interview time with four to six non-profits. They were assigned a time and sat down with members of the non-profit to have a nine-minute discussion. The time was tracked with a large stop-watch located at the front of the room. 

Hal Snarr, assistant professor of economics and business analytics, helped organize the event.

“Westminster is all about service, volunteering and community. So, we want to help our students and our community learn how to network and interview with people and to volunteer by giving service to boards. We invited alumni, current students and we even invited faculty and staff and we have a few faculty and staff members interviewing for board positions today.”

Snarr stressed that the key to having a successful evening is to have one or two good questions to ask each of the boards, because, “the worst thing you can do in an interview is, when they ask if you have any questions for us, and you say no. That means that you haven’t done any research on them. We made sure that the participants were prepared. We gave them a list of the organizations that they were going to interview with before the event and we asked our participants to put together a dossier of each non-profit and come up with some interesting questions and to make sure they had a really concise one-page resume.” 

The organizations that participated were varied. Some focused on environmental issues, medical issues, community issues and the arts. Each table was manned by members of the organization, and many of them had a current board member present as well to help answer any questions that the participants might have. 

Francisca Figueroa, marketing specialist for Comunidades Unidas was thrilled to be invited to the Board Match Event.

“We want to invite the people today to join our board and to work with our Latino Community. We offer preventive health, we have an immigration clinic and we do advocacy for the community. We want to find people who want to join us in our program and to share with people our information and how we work and help the Latino community.”

Once the clock started, things moved fast. People were engaged and some great connections were made. 

“Tonight, I really hope to learn more about our communities and the organizations that support them and connect with people and figure out ways to make a difference,” said Jaydee Blackburn, a graduate student at Westminster College. “I love that Westminster is so engaged and has so much community involvement.”


 [LL1]What’s MSC? Master of Social work?