The Board Game: Filling Gaps

By SA2020 | Oct 9 2019

The SA2020 Nonprofit Partner Impact Report, released in January 2019, paints a high-level picture of 126 nonprofit organizations (out of the nearly 5,000 in Bexar County) that are actively aligning to San Antonio’s Community Vision. The work they do every day moves the needle on the community results you prioritized, helping us get closer and closer to our shared goals.

This report shows nearly 11,000 people are employed by our Nonprofit Partners. In comparison, aerospace/aviation has 13,000 in its total industry locally, and San Antonio’s IT sector as a whole has 34,000 employees. The report shows $820 million in revenue among those 126 organizations. Additionally, it shows an additional $38 million in economic impact in volunteerism, which is valued at $24.69/hour by Independent Sector. And with just over 2,000 board members among these 126 partners, we were particularly struck by the 399 openings on our Nonprofit Partners’ boards – that’s 20% of available seats available for someone to get engaged (or 1 in 5 seats open)!

It was in this number that the SA2020 team began having serious conversations about how to connect more people who were passionate about affecting change to an obvious gap in our local nonprofit governance. Thus, The Board Game was created, a leadership development training and matching program that meets the needs of our Nonprofit Partners.

After a citywide scan of existing leadership/development programs as they relate to board service and an additional survey of our Nonprofit Partners, 47 organizations (including SA2020!) signed up to be matched to individuals who met their needs. We asked about expertise, demographics, and level of commitment, and we used that to develop a matching system that would ultimately enable us to find the best fits for our Partner organizations.

This survey showed us a few things:

• 62% of those currently serving on these boards are white.
• 53% of those currently serving on these boards are over the age of 40.
• Nonprofits needed more expertise in fundraising, advancing equity, technology, and communications/marketing.
• There were nearly 250 openings among the 47 participating organizations.

So, there was a gap. And, as our job also consists of engaging and activating the community toward San Antonio’s shared Community Vision, we set out to fill it.

Working with a committee of 19 civic and corporate leaders, we aimed to share The Board Game with the people our Nonprofit Partners were looking for. And our engagement strategy yielded the following applicants:

• 61% identified as people of color.
• 69% identified as women.
• 73% were aged 40 or younger.
• 70% percent had never participated in a leadership/development program. And for those that had, Latina Leadership Institute, Alex Briseño Leadership Development Program, and Leadership San Antonio rose to the top.
• Expertise ranged from communications to advancing equity to tech and law.
• Applicants had a range of experiences and backgrounds and came from every single council district in San Antonio.

Ultimately, 215 people applied to participate in The Board Game. And over two training sessions, which were offered on a sliding scale, 138 people were trained to be the next round of board leaders. In the coming months, these individuals will be connecting with participating organizations to discuss service and onboarding. And SA2020 will be communicating with both participants and organizations so we can see who landed where.

Participants said that they appreciated the opportunity to…

“learn more about my personal breadth of influence and what I could offer to a nonprofit board”

“meet existing nonprofit board members to ask questions”

“meet fellow residents who share a passion to participate”

“better understand how nonprofits can help push this city further forward through outcomes and how being a board member supports that”

At SA2020, we believe that we are all capable of affecting change because we live and work within the systems we seek to disrupt. Our Nonprofit Partners understand community need and pivot programs and resources to meet them. 138 of your neighbors just went through a training to help 47 organizations grow their influence, strengthen their strategies, and advocate on their behalf for time, talent, and additional resources.

Under San Antonio’s Vision for Civic Engagement, you said you wanted “vibrant grassroots movements, civic organizations, business leaders, city staff, and selfless residents actively and effectively collaborating.” The Board Game provided an opportunity to connect San Antonians to nonprofit organizations that are actively aligning toward our community’s shared goals—and ultimately help us realize our shared Community Vision.

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