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3 Nonprofits Form Alliance to Recruit One Another’s Workers

Read this story in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

By Rebecca Koenig

Three Jewish nonprofits have forged an agreement to recruit workers from one another’s staffs in a partnership intended to attract and retain ambitious employees.

Called the Talent Alliance, the effort connects the staffs of BBYO, Hillel International, and Moishe House.

"I think organizations working collaboratively usually happens on the program level, but not so much in the organizational, human-resources level," said David Cygielman, chief executive of Moishe House. "People can feel like they’re continuing to grow in the Jewish communal space."

The idea developed during a series of conversations hosted by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation to help the nonprofits’ leaders identify areas of shared interest. Each organization works with Jewish youths, but since they focus on different age groups, it seemed unlikely they would run programs together, Mr. Cygielman said. However, they all recognized a need to offer their staff members more opportunities for advancement.

"We’ve certainly noticed that when talented people are exploring their options, they’re not limiting them to the Jewish community," said Matt Grossman, chief executive of BBYO.

Rather than battle for the best people, they decided to share them.

"It’s really a contemporary idea in a world where lots of organizations view everybody else as a competitor," said Mark Sapperstein, board member for BBYO. "This is what the Jewish world needs: organizations to find ways to partner together."

The groups couldn’t find models for this program and think it’s one-of-a-kind.

"The Talent Alliance is the only partnership of its type that we’ve been able to find across sectors and across geography," said Adam Simon, director of leadership initiatives at the Schusterman Foundation. "It’s unique in the talent leadership space to embrace movement of individuals as a strength, not as a liability."

A career map on the Talent Alliance website illustrates the possible paths employees can take and categorizes jobs by level of experience and skill area. A midlevel employee hoping to do direct-services work, for example, could seek a position as a senior program associate at Moishe House, an engagement director at Hillel, or a program manager at BBYO.

The 780 employees affected by the new system will get advantages beyond having more career options. When staff members move between the nonprofits, the organizations will honor their years of service to make sure they don’t lose vacation time and other benefits. Those looking for new opportunities but not wanting to move may have an easier time staying in their current geographic location.

The collaboration required almost no financial support, said Mr. Simon.

"It’s basically free," he said. "Costs that might be incurred for extending recognition for years of service are offset by decreased costs for recruitment and training of new employees."

The Talent Alliance will run a yearlong pilot program starting next month, and the nonprofit leaders hope other organizations will want to join.

Said Mr. Simon: "One measure of our success is demand from other mission-aligned organizations" to participate.

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