Forming Partnerships Through Nonprofit Speed Matching


When you hear the term “speed dating,” you probably think of an event people attend to meet others interested in a romantic relationship. However, if you remove the word “romantic” from the speed dating definition above, you might find that this type of an event could be helpful for forming partnerships outside of romantic relationships, as well.

United Way of Greater Augusta (Staunton, Virginia) recently invited their local nonprofits to attend a “Speed Matching and Networking Event,” to learn about each other and how they could work together for the benefit of the community. They asked each nonprofit to have one representative attend the event, in order to provide those in attendance with plenty of opportunities for conversations with multiple nonprofits.

United Way of Greater Augusta held their first “Speed Matching and Networking Event” in November of 2014 at a vineyard and held it again in April of 2015 at a restaurant. This event was very successful, with a total of 73 nonprofits attending (41 in November and 32 in April). All participants were speedily introduced to each other and challenged to find a way they could partner or collaborate. After the speed matching, participants were then invited to attend a traditional networking reception.

During the “Speed Matching and Networking Event,” participants had two minutes each to introduce themselves and 10 minutes to discuss their ideas for partnership and collaboration, before moving on to a conversation with someone else. Participants had an opportunity to discuss possible partnerships with approximately eight different nonprofits throughout the event.

Participants were given “Idea Sheets” where they listed both organizations’ names at the top, wrote the issue in the community or key population they were focused on addressing, and explained their collaboration idea. At the bottom of the page was a check box, where they indicated if they wanted to pursue this idea. A few examples of “Idea Sheets” from the event are included below:

Cynthia Pritchard, CEO at United Way of Greater Augusta, shared with me a story from their “Speed Matching and Networking Event” in November of 2014, in which they were able to create hope for people who were homeless. Their local homeless shelter and art center met and talked during the event, and came up with a collaboration idea in which United Way of Greater Augusta provided $1,000 in funding. Their idea was to bring an art instructor to the residents of the homeless shelter and ask the residents to paint what home looks like to them. The paintings were then displayed in an art show, and the winning painting will be turned into notecards to benefit the homeless shelter.

We love when United Ways take the lead to encourage collaborations that make a greater impact in the community. We know that collaboration can be difficult, and this event is a great example of how your United Way can take the lead and network with other nonprofits in the community to identify ways they could work together to benefit your local community.