Nonprofit Draft Day matches 30 nonprofits with new board members

Dominik Singh, the newest board member for the nonprofit Upper Sugar River Watershed Association, says he was “blown away” by his experience at the recent Nonprofit Draft Day.

Singh (pictured here) was one of over 100 free agents who took part in this inaugural NFL Draft-style event, held in late January at Edgewood College in Madison. According to head organizer Kevin Dwyer, representatives of over 50 nonprofits were in attendance, and at least 30 matches were made either at the event or shortly after.

Dwyer calls this a “fantastic” result, and says participants “really want it to happen again.”

“To have this be as successful as it was for its inaugural draft day, that’s an amazing accomplishment,” Singh told

Singh and his wife, who grew up in Green Lake, moved from Seattle to Madison about a year and a half ago to be closer to family. They’re involved with fundraising at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, where his wife works, and with the Community Around the Children’s Hospital, also known as CATCH.

His background includes years of philanthropic fundraising and corporate event planning at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. He currently works as a loan partner for Waterstone Mortgage Corporation.

In his new position on the board of the USRWA, Singh says he will focus on corporate sponsorships and securing funding for new equipment, sensors and marketing materials for the environmentally focused nonprofit.

The Upper Sugar River Watershed is located in Dane County, with a drainage area of 170 square miles and 115 miles of streams. It houses fisheries, native plant communities, and habitat for some rare and endangered species, according to the USRWA.

The association collects environmental data, performs restoration projects and works with agricultural producers to reduce runoff.

Singh says this group piqued his interest because of conservation efforts related to the diverse flora and fauna found in the watershed, calling it “a perfect fit for me.”

Martin Cieslik, president of the association’s board since 2012, says “our mission is basically to be the organization that speaks for the watershed as a whole, pushing for good habitat and water quality. Good water quality is good for everybody.”

Cieslik says Dominik’s financial background made him an especially attractive candidate.

“We’re always looking for a diverse group on the board, different skills,” he said. “He was an interesting candidate for us.”

He says it can be difficult for nonprofits to break out of their circle of connections to get new perspectives in the mix.

“That was a really big deal, to have that opportunity,” he said, adding he felt so strongly about the event’s benefit to the nonprofit community that he reached out to Dwyer and offered to help organize the event next year.

“On a personal level, it really struck me that there were over 50 organizations and all have good, interesting causes,” he said. “You can’t participate in all of them — that’s why I felt like it was important to involve myself in that effort going forward. If I can perpetuate that, it will help all the other orgs to be successful.”

Dwyer, who heads the Madison-based nonprofit Where Is Care, says he plans to hold this event again in early 2019, and notes community members in Appleton have expressed interest in holding drafts as well.

See photos from the event:

Listen to a podcast with Nonprofit Draft Day organizers:

–By Alex Moe