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Sharing Jobs and Talent: 3 Charities Make It Easy

A longtime staff member at Moishe House, a charity that works to strengthen ties among young Jews, was eager for new responsibilities. To the worker's boss, it may have come as quite a surprise that the organization was at risk of losing a valued employee who wanted a new role.

A step the charity took last summer should help resolve issues like this by providing avenues for employees who seek job advancement, while helping to ensure that that the nonprofit has access to top-notch workers.

Moishe House joined two other Jewish charities, BBYO and Hillel International, in forming the Talent Alliance, a network that encourages their combined 780 employees to seek career-development opportunities at any of the three groups.

So far, the collaboration has spurred at least two employee moves: one from BBYO to Hillel, another from Hillel to BBYO. Employees can learn about available options on a career map that is featured on the Talent Alliance's website. The map illustrates the possible paths that employees can take and categorizes jobs by levels of experience and necessary skills.

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.

Workers have an incentive to stay within the network when seeking a new position: When they move to another organization, they don't lose vacation time or other benefits accrued over years of service.

David Cygielman, chief executive of Moishe House, said the program represents a new way for nonprofits to collaborate. The idea was born from a series of conversations hosted by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation to help leaders of the three Jewish groups identify areas of mutual interest.

Each of the organizations works with Jewish youths. Because they focus on different age groups, however, it seemed unlikely the organizations would offer joint programs, Mr. Cygielman said. Yet they all recognized a need to offer their staff members more opportunities for advancement.

Too often, he said, workers move to groups that have no connection to Judaism, not because they're tired of the mission but because they don't see any other route to promotion.

Rather than battling to attract the best people, leaders of the three groups decided to share them. "It's really a contemporary idea in a world where lots of organizations view everybody else as a competitor," said Marc Saperstein, a board member at BBYO.

Ira Madin, a vice president at the recruitment firm Professionals for Nonprofits, said the approach may be the first of its kind and offers a model for how groups with like-minded missions can keep the best people working for their causes.

The collaboration required almost no money to implement, said Adam Simon, director of leader- ship initiatives at the Schusterman Foundation. "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 operate until next summer to test whether the idea works. If it does, the alliance hopes to collaborate with more groups that work on Jewish issues. Mr. Simon said one way the group will measure success is if other Jewish nonprofits race to join the network

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