News and analysis
January 05, 2016

Monisha Kapila: a For-Profit to Nonprofit Pipeline

Katherine Lambert

Monisha Kapila, 38
Founder and Chief Executive, ProInspire
Washington

Monisha Kapila, the daughter of immigrants from India who instilled in her an ethos of service, had long planned a nonprofit career. But after burnishing her business skills as a consultant at Arthur Andersen following her graduation, she found the transition into the charity world difficult.

"Nonprofits didn’t know what to do with my private-sector experience," she says.

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After stints at Harvard Business School, Accion International, and Capital One Financial Corporation, she saw that big companies — with their in-house training, robust recruiting, and greater appreciation of generalists — were better able to attract and keep talent than charities were. To help close the gap, she founded ProInspire in 2009.

The group offers yearlong fellowships to outstanding workers at companies like Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, and Google for positions at nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington. About 70 percent stay at the charities after their fellowship ends.

In April, the Annie E. Casey Foundation picked ProInspire and four other organizations to help create a strategy for strengthening the nonprofit sector’s talent pipeline.

ProInspire’s goal, Ms. Kapila says, is not just to attract more great nonprofit workers but also to make charities value them more. Easier said than done, she acknowledges, in an era when "overhead" is a dirty word: "A big reason nonprofits can’t invest in talent is because philanthropy has not supported them to do that."

Send an email to Heather Joslyn.