YNPN Blog: Resources, People, Ideas

Talent Matters: Strategic Networking & Effective Leadership

This week our National Director Trish Tchume is in the Stanford Social Innovation Review talking about the value of strategic networking:

"What binds us in the social sector is that, regardless of our organizational mission, we want to be impactful and relevant. Most of us realize that while each of us has our own ideas and strengths, figuring out what it takes to achieve greatest impact and relevance involves climbing over our organizational walls. It’s why we join associations and grab coffee to pick a colleague’s brain. It’s why 74 percent of respondents in YNPN’s 2013 member survey cited “access to a network” as the benefit they value most about their membership.

"However, even professionals who understand the importance of networking as a tool for increasing effectiveness seem to miss the fact that they must take networking a step further to offer true leadership around their mission."

Head over to the SSIR site to read the rest of Trish's piece and learn why strategic networking is critical to effective leadership. And while you're there, check out the rest of their Talent Matters series on nonprofit talent development.

Network to Know: NetSquared

You may have seen our National Director Trish Tchume's recent piece for the Stanford Social Innovation Review on the value of strategic networking. If you haven't, you should check it out.

To help our members find opportunities to more strategically network, we'll occasionally be featuring organizations that we think are doing interesting work that would be of interest to YNPN members. First up is NetSquared!

NetSquared provides a space for anyone interested in technology and social change to connect online, share ideas, and even collaborate in person. We talked to Elijah van der Giessen, NetSquared's Community Manager, about why NetSquared is a network to know.

You were founded in 2006. Tell us a little more about the mission of your organization.

Our tagline is "Mobilising Communities and Technology for Social Change.” Our goal is to create a sustainable, scalable community of practice for nonprofit technologists (current and aspiring!) where people can come together to share best practices, case studies, and support each others' projects.

What brings NetSquared members to your network?

It's a few things:

1. Nonprofits are technology laggards, but they don’t have to be! We hold free training events every month in 50 cities across the globe!

2. If you want to connect with technically literate nonprofit staffers, your local NetSquared members are often looking for collaborators.

3. Being the geek at a nonprofit can be lonely work because nobody understands what you do. We’ll connect you into a community of peers to laugh, weep and learn.

What does a typical NetSquared event look like?

A typical NetSquared event is a presentation focusing on a local nonprofit technology case study that features practical tips that can be immediately implemented by the attendees. Popular topics include measurement and analytics, digital storytelling, and social media surgeries.

How can YNPN members and chapters connect with NetSquared?

1. We have a community of nonprofit technologists. You have a community of young nonprofit professionals. You KNOW there’s overlap. So let’s co-produce an event!

2. Your local NetSquared group may be a promotional partner to help connect you with potential members.
To learn more about NetSquared you can reach out to Elijah at eli@techsoupglobal.org or visit their website at netsquared.org. You can also find them on Twitter at @NetSquared.

We're Hiring: Love data as much as we do?

You may have noticed that the past few years have been a pretty exciting whirlwind for YNPN. Since launching the national movement 10 years ago, we’ve grown to become a vibrant, grassroots network with more than 50,000 members that’s gotten really good at activating emerging leaders to build a diverse and powerful social sector.

Now we're seeking an entrepreneurial, resourceful, and passionate Data Systems Manager to help take our work to the next level!
Here’s what we’re hoping to accomplish over the next 5 years related to this position:

  • Become the representative voice of young nonprofit professionals (YNPs) across the country
  • Develop a data platform that provides robust space for member-to-member connections, chapter-to-chapter connections, and network-to-sector connections.
  • Create a data-positive culture--which means respect, skill, and enthusiasm for data-backed decision making--amongst our chapter leaders and members that will improve the way our whole sector thinks about and uses data.

And we see implementing a smart, dynamic, and accessible data system coupled with cool, engaging chapter leader training on the systems as the best way to achieve these goals.

So did you get chills reading this preview? Perfect. We’d love to hear from you.

Click here to learn more if you’re up for the adventure (and a good time along the way!)
* Star Trek fandom not required.

Why You Should Apply for the YNPN National Board

You may have heard that applications for the YNPN National Board will open on August 1.

If you're a nonprofit rockstar who is passionate about YNPN and our work, we hope that you'll think about applying and we encourage you to learn more about the application process before it opens on August 1.

In the meantime, hear what current board members have to say about their awesome experiences on the YNPN National Board.

Jessie Bustamente

If you ever want to feel empowered to make things happen, join the YNPN National Board. This group is the most motivated, career-driven, intelligent young nonprofit leaders I have ever met. When I first heard about the opportunity to join I immediately jumped on it, not knowing if I had what it took to join the ranks.

The minute I stepped into my first board meeting I was petrified… but the Board was so welcoming & supportive that I fit right in. This group of individuals has challenged me to think strategically and tactically, at the same time. We are moving projects forward at this instant and also thinking how YNPN will look in 10, 20, 30 years. The Board experience at YNPN has been a tremendous growing opportunity for me & I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am excited to spend another 2 years serving & hope you consider joining too… trust me, it’ll be one of the best decisions you ever make in your career.


Qyana Stewart

I joined the National Board in 2012 and have been hooked ever since. I was recently asked when I planned to term off the board and had difficulty providing a response. True, all good thing must come to an end, but the thought of me not being a part of a team of some of the wittiest, funniest, most supportive, smartest people I know, was a bit daunting. When you are surrounded by true leadership and true friendship, it’s challenging to imagine not being around, not being a part of the process that makes our network as strong as it is, not being connected to some of the most hard-working, dedicated and committed chapter leaders I have seen in any organization.

Two years later and I am still as pumped and enthusiastic about YNPN as I was when I first joined the National Board. The time and dedication National Board members devote to strengthening and growing our network is truly commendable. The amount of growth, just within the past two years, speaks to our desire to provide our network with the best resources, opportunities and experiences; and we are doing it! We continue to strive for excellence and are always looking for new talent to push us farther than we thought possible. So, for now, I guess YNPN National is stuck with me because I am surely stuck on them!

What is #ynpn14?

Over the next few weeks you may see us talking, tweeting, and posting about #ynpn14. That's because on June 26-28 we'll be hosting our National Conference and Leaders Institute in the Twin Cities. (Official hashtag #ynpn14, of course.)

For the past 7 years, YNPN chapter leaders from across the country have gathered to collaborate, connect, and help shape the future of the network. Each year the conference is co-hosted by a local chapter, with YNPN Twin Cities stepping up to help organize this year's event.

Our leaders at last year's conference

Our leaders at last year's conference in Phoenix

Our National Conference is an opportunity for professional growth and personal connection among our chapter leaders. It's also an opportunity to share best practices and get connected to resources that can help them in their work leading their local chapters.

And we definitely have a good time:

This year we have more chapters represented than ever before. For a snapshot of who's coming to the conference, check out this infographic.

And to keep up with this year's conference, follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Photo credits, from top to bottom: Bonnie Jean Wright Photography, Bonnie Jean Wright Photography, Moua Lo Photography, Moua Lo Photography

YNPN Partnering with Nonprofit Quarterly

We are so excited to announce that YNPN and Nonprofit Quarterly are partnering for the very first time to work together and with you to amplify the voices of young nonprofit professionals.

This is the beginning of an exciting relationship where young nonprofit professionals and one of the social sector's leading publications can educate one another and sustain a healthy information ecosystem.

To kick off this partnership, they've asked for a little bit of feedback from you about the issues that matter most to you, your work, and the sector.

Please take a moment to take this brief survey, and please share this survey with your colleagues and networks.

YNPN will be on hand to review the results with NPQ during their annual editorial meeting. This is a chance for YNPs to wield our influence. Take a moment to make your voice heard!


Workers & Nonprofits: Addressing Inequity Together

YNPN Hawai'i member Paola Rodelas tells us about three labor issues nonprofit professionals should have on their radar and what they can do to advance labor rights and equality.

Few people know that labor unions are nonprofit organizations; they’re classified as 501(c)(5) organizations. Yet I get mostly quizzical looks when I tell my fellow young nonprofit professionals that I work for a labor union.

Some people have negative responses. Some say they had a union job once. Someone even asked me once if I’m a thug. But most of the time, people are clueless about what a labor union even is.

If you work in the nonprofit sector, chances are you directly or indirectly deal with labor issues. Considering how many nonprofit professionals work in social services and healthcare, I’m sure many of you care about important issues that affect underserved and underrepresented communities. I too worked for 501(c)(3) nonprofits because I was very passionate about social and political issues and creating real change.

Last year, I left a healthcare organization to work at UNITE HERE Local 5, a labor union in Hawai’i that represents hospitality and healthcare workers. I decided to work for Local 5 because this union understands that community issues are workers’ issues, and that workers’ issues are community issues.

To build a larger social and political movement made up of union members and non-members, my union and other community organizations formed the AiKea Movement. Since our launch in 2012, we’ve been tackling issues such as responsible development, marriage equality, immigration reform, environmental concerns, and more. Many of our key leaders are nonprofit organizations or employees.

Union member and non-member issues are not and should not be separate issues. Rather, we should unite together to fight the same beast of economic and social inequality. Here is a brief look at some of these important issues and why they aren’t exclusively workplace issues or exclusively community issues:
1. Living Wage

Labor unions have been fighting for a living wage since their inception, and the fight continues. Had the federal minimum wage kept up with inflation over the past 40 years, it would be $10.86 an hour today. About 3.8 million workers are paid wages at or below the federal minimum wage.

After graduating from college in 2010, I struggled to find a nonprofit job (or any job, really) and worked minimum wage retail and hospitality jobs for a year until I landed my first full-time job. I personally understand what it means to (barely) survive on minimum wage, and I’m sure many of you out there can relate.

My union has been fortunate to work with several nonprofit organizations advocating for raising minimum wage. We worked with faith-based groups, LGBTQ organizations, public policy advocates, etc. As a result, Hawaii’s minimum wage was just raised from $7.25/hour to $10.10/hour last week.

But we made it very clear that this is an issue that affects not just minimum wage workers, but the entire community. Local 5 workers make well above minimum wage. But when some workers struggle, we all struggle. We created an infographic on bank tellers’ low pay, highlighting how much they depend on government assistance as a result. Meanwhile, banks are cashing in billions in profits. Good jobs here means money spent here, taxes paid here, a better life here.
2. Benefits, Job Security, & other factors that make good jobs good

We have labor unions to thank for weekends, holiday pay, ending child labor, and more. But there is still much work to be done.
Discussions about living wage often stop there and neglect the other facets of a good job: full family medical coverage, paid sick days, guaranteed pensions, job security. There are also numerous other workplace challenges that workers face, such as the negative impacts of subcontracting, the rise in non-union temp and part-time work, and the decline in union membership nationwide.

But again, these are issues that affect our entire community and not employees. We’re currently combatting the issue of our hotel rooms being converted into luxury condos and timeshares, which cuts thousands of good jobs. Because of these lost jobs, we calculated that over $30 million each year has been lost in state and Honolulu city tax revenue. That’s money that could have been used for our schools, our roads, and more. Everyone loses out, not just hotel workers.

3. Community Issues

Workers are people; they have lives outside of the workplace. They face a myriad of issues that affect them in and out of the workplace. And with the decline in union membership across the country, it’s more important than ever for unions to support workers who are not members.

It is no secret that the U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse, and the working class especially reflects this. Immigrants account for more than 16% of the civilian labor force. Unsurprisingly, many labor unions have been actively supporting immigration reform.

Some labor unions have also been advocating for LGBTQ rights. My union and many others in Hawai’i supported marriage equality, which was signed into law last fall. Recently, UNITE HERE Local 11 organized celebrities and LGBTQ rights activists to boycott the Beverly Hills Hotel because it is owned by the nation of Brunei, where homosexuality is punishable by death by stoning.
What can nonprofits do?

  • Understand that nonprofit employees are working people. Even if you are not a member of a union, you are still a working person who may be facing the same types of workplace issues. You may also be working for a nonprofit that is fighting the same inequities that unions are. We must work together not just in coalitions, but as a cohesive movement.
  • Join us on the front lines, and also let us know about your campaigns. More voices and more boots on the ground are needed to create real change. Just a few ideas:
    • Join us at our rallies
    • Appeal to elected officials and other decision makers.
    • Write letters to the editor.

Immigration reform, marriage equality, environmental justice, you name it—these community issues are all workers’ issues. And workplace issues like living wage and worker benefits are all community issues. Community support is integral to combating workplace issues and improving the lives of working people. And the support of working people is necessary to fix community issues.

This is how we address inequity together.


Paola Rodelas Paola Rodelas
Paola Rodelas is a Communications Specialist at UNITE HERE Local 5, a labor union representing nearly 10,000 hospitality and healthcare workers in Hawaii. She has been a YNPN member since 2012 and was involved with YNPN San Diego's fundraising committee. After moving to Hawaii in 2013, she co-founded YNPN Hawaii. Prior to her work at Local 5, Paola worked at UC San Diego Health Sciences Development and was an active volunteer at the Pacific Arts Movement (formerly the San Diego Asian Film Foundation). She studied Ethnic Studies and Art History at UC San Diego, where she also attained her professional certification in Fundraising and Development.
People icon designed by Moh Kamaru from the Noun Project

Nonprofit Talent Matters

We’re thrilled to be a contributing partner for a new Stanford Social Innovation Review blog series, Talent Matters. Over the next 4 months, 8 nonprofit leaders (including YNPN) will share stories from the field highlighting real-world results achieved through a focus on talent.

Achieve Mission, American Express Foundation, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), The Management Center, Net Impact, ProInspire, and Public Allies will be joining us in sharing their approach to making talent a priority.

The third blog post in the series comes from Lori Bartczak of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and discusses how grantmakers can support organizations and leaders in combating burnout.

Check out the most recent post and the rest of the series over on the SSIR site!

YNPN’s approach to #nplabor: We don’t want to be an oasis!

In the fall of 2012, we started our LaunchPad Fellows program--essentially the first “staff members” we welcomed into YNPN after me.

About a month after the Fellows came on and we were off and running, I started to notice something that was heartwarming at first: our Fellows were really appreciative! I’d get these awesome notes from them that said:

“Thanks for sending me that follow up article about [topic we’d discussed]!”


“Thanks for listening to me vent this morning!”

It was really sweet!  I would think to myself, “Awwww, these Fellows.  They’ve been raised so well!”
Another month in, though, just after we finished our first round of the quarterly check-ins, the thanks were still coming:

“Thank you for taking extra time to help me figure this out!”

“Thank you for asking me what I thought.  And actually listening!”

“Thank you for telling me that I did that well!”

But my reaction slowly started to change.

The first class of fellows during one of their monthly staff meetings

Look, I’m not naïve.  In the first place, YNPN is an organization that focuses on personally and professionally developing young leaders.  We were founded because young leaders knew that this development was important and they weren’t getting what they needed from other places.

Second, I go to conferences and sit on the panels all the time where we talk about how we have to be better at developing younger leaders.  I champion the research (#fundthepeople!) that says we have to invest more.  I read the blog posts that make the very clear case for how we can do better.  I’m clearly aware that we have an issue when it comes to investing in talent.

But seriously?  “Thank you for asking me what I thought.  And actually listening.” ???

We, of course, want YNPN to be known as a great place to work.  And it is!  (Most days :)  )  But we don’t want YNPN to be known as a great place to work because the people who show up here have dragged themselves across the professional desert and have finally found their way to the oasis that is our organization.

If you’re like me, those lists of the “Top 10/50/100 Best Places for  Trish with Ebony & Michelle, two of our Launchpad Fellows, at our February retreat.

Trish with Ebony & Michelle, two of our Launchpad Fellows, at our February retreat
3. We bring the whole bench into strategy conversations.

There’s often the fear of too many cooks in the strategic kitchen but we’ve found that we can either invest time on the front end and figure out the best ways to facilitate appropriate engagement from everyone in our org.  Or we can invest time on the back end getting our team to buy into the vision and plan we developed off on a mountaintop somewhere.  We’ve chosen the front-end strategy.  So when the board has an in-person planning meeting, the Fellows and staff come too.

Granted this is a bit of an organizational luxury given that our bench isn’t so big - we have a staff of two full-time folks, three Fellows, a couple of awesome contractors, and a board of 15.  Still, I can see this remaining a central part of our culture even as we grow in size.  We’ve learned that our strongest ideas and strategic plans are shaped in spaces where folks from all levels of the organization are around the table.  And the level of investment in carrying out those plans is incomparable.

One of the images from my onboarding package. This is the commitment YNPN shows to welcoming new staff. - Jamie

One of the images from Jamie's onboarding package. This is the commitment YNPN shows to welcoming new staff.

4.  We’re serious about onboarding.  

I had an internship my junior year of college where I showed up in the office, my manager met me at the door, took me to my desk, and gave me a piece of paper with 3 or 4 assignments.  Then she left.  Within 30 minutes I had a question...and I had no idea where my manager’s desk was.

I think often about that experience whenever we plan out an onboarding.  We have a great track record of hiring folks who are smart, committed, and creative with a good amount of skill and even more potential.  We’ve learned through experience that they’re ready and willing to contribute amazing things for the organization, but only if we help them get a feel for the space within which they have to create-- both in terms of workplan and in terms of culture.  So our onboarding plans are extensive--intensive at first and then additional meetings and readings stretch out over the first several months.  But it’s all aimed at helping create a sense of deep context for team members while allowing them space to do their thing.


5. We ask folks what they need to be successful and we try our best to provide that.

Each year we do set aside resources in our budget to pay for professional development for team members.  Our staff and Fellows do a good job of taking advantage of the fund--signing up for webinars or attending conference that they think will help them with their work.  But, honestly, when we ask our team members what they need to be successful, the vast majority are things that don’t cost anything at all.  “I need you to let me know as soon as possible if I’m going in the wrong direction.” Or “I need you to introduce me to people who know how to do this thing I’m trying to do.” Or “I need to do my hours from really early and stop by mid-afternoon because that’s where my energy is best.”

And usually it’s not the thing itself that seems to have the most impact on their success (though we make a solid commitment to doing what we say we’re going to do), but the fact that we cared enough to ask.

By the way, all the little and big things that we’ve put in place to create an environment that people love--I didn’t make any of it up. When I stepped into the role as the first Director of YNPN National and had the opportunity to start solidifying the culture of the organization, I only had to rely 10% on my instincts.  The other 90% came from almost 20 years of experience being managed and developed by incredible, passionate, brilliant individuals from my RA job as an undergrad to my last gig at the Building Movement Project.

These folk, each in their own small way, helped me form my basic philosophy for what the field now identifies as a whole body of practices known as  “talent management.”  Basically it’s this:

If you believe that your organization’s mission matters, then the people who carry it out matter too.  And you should treat them accordingly.  


(For more on YNPN’s internal Talent Philosophy, check out this report from last year’s LaunchPad Fellow for Talent Management, Betty Jeanne Reuters-Ward.)

Trish Tchume

Trish Tchume
After almost 8 years of engaging with the network as a volunteer, Trish Tchume is proud to be serving as the first-ever Director of YNPN National.

When not dreaming up various ways to harness the power of emerging nonprofit leaders, Trish likes to help her fellow New Yorkers find their inner voice as a volunteer story coach with the Moth and regularly takes her life into her own hands biking and jogging through the streets of NYC. She equally credits her rich Jesuit education, her strong Ghanaian roots, and a severe case of middle child syndrome for her commitment to engaging as many people as possible in the important work of building a just and equitable society.

You can contact Trish at trish@ynpn.org and follow her on Twitter at @ttchume.
Huddle icon from Andrew McKinley via the Noun Project


Free but invaluable: What YNPNsfba knows about volunteer labor

One form of labor in the nonprofit sector that’s often under-appreciated is volunteer labor. All of our local chapters are run entirely by volunteers from the community, and across the network we see firsthand the kind of amazing work that volunteers can accomplish and how dedicated they can be.

The members of YNPNsfba’s Volunteer Corps, for example, commit to spending 20 hours per month furthering their chapter’s mission. Here YNPNsfba Volunteer Manager Lizzie Timbers Lara shares some of what she’s learned about how to manage and retain a dedicated group of volunteers.

Volunteers are the unsung heroes of the nonprofit sector. Although it may sound like a cliché, it could not be more true. Volunteers add manpower to nonprofit organizations that the organization would not be able to get elsewhere. They put tireless hours into causes and contribute to nonprofits’ successes. In organizations like YNPN, the volunteers run the whole organization. Whether your organization has volunteers only for events, has volunteer interns on a long term basis or is entirely volunteer run, it is essential to know how to recruit, retain and appreciate your volunteers.

YNPNsfba Board & Volunteer Corps YNPNsfba Board & Volunteer Corps. Photo by Moua Lo.


At YNPNsfba, we keep a volunteer application on our website to recruit volunteers. Because we are volunteer run we take applications on a rolling basis, but September is when we have our push for new volunteers. We are fortunate enough to have long standing social media accounts with a strong follower base that we are able to use to recruit volunteers.

Although we are able to recruit some awesome volunteers digitally, I have found that the best way to find volunteers is at events. When you meet someone at an event, you know they have already taken the first step and shown interest by attending. You can speak to them to see what their interests and skills are. People who show enthusiasm in getting involved and using their skills are people who I look for to volunteer.

In the last year, we have created an official onboarding system at YNPNsfba. The first step in the onboarding process is for the manager to meet in-person with the volunteer. This is one of the most important aspects to emphasize. The importance is two-fold; when the new volunteer is able to meet at least one other volunteer they feel connected to the organization, secondly if you cannot get a new volunteer to schedule a time to meet with you in-person, they most likely will not be an engaged volunteer.

We also have a volunteer orientation packet that the managers go through with the volunteers which covers YNPNsfba history, mission, values and structure. It is important that the volunteer understand all of this before volunteering, so that they will understand the organization they are working for better. When I was brought on as a volunteer, this system was not in place and it took me a couple years to really understand the organization’s structure and how it works. It is important when bringing on a new volunteer that they feel connected with the organization and understands their role in the organization.

Members of YNPNsfba at the Board & Volunteer Corps retreat Members of YNPNsfba at the Board & Volunteer Corps retreat. Photo by Moua Lo.


Volunteer retainment is always something that is difficult. We have found that the in-person onboarding helps with retainment. It is also important for the manager to be clear about what will be expected of the volunteer and ensure that is something that they can commit to. To help with retainment, I encourage my managers to have regular monthly meetings with their committees. I have found that the best practice is to schedule the next month’s meeting before the end of each meeting that way everyone is clear when you will meet next. The regularity of meeting helps to keep the volunteer engaged. Volunteers who feel like they are contributing and helping are more likely to stay involved and not leave.

Free food never hurts your volunteer retention strategy Free food never hurts your volunteer retention strategy. Photo by Moua Lo.

One of the best ways to keep volunteers is to make sure that you are recognizing and appreciating them. There are various ways which we try to ensure that our volunteers feel appreciated at YNPNsfba. Volunteer appreciation does not have to be a lavish thing. We appreciate our volunteers with food at meetings.

We also recognize our volunteers with a picture and small bio of each volunteer on our website and regularly updating our social media with pictures of our volunteers. Birthday cards can also be a nice way to show your appreciation. Most of our volunteers are looking for professional experience opportunities. Getting volunteers into conferences or trainings are great ways to foster their career and appreciate them. Volunteer appreciation can be simple, but the important part is to make sure that you are recognizing your volunteers in some aspect and make sure they know that you are grateful for the work they are doing.

At YNPNsfba, volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization. Without energetic, motivated volunteers our organization would not exist. We know we're not the only organization in the sector that this is true for, and we hope that all organizations can be thoughtful about how they manage and value volunteer labor.


Lizzie Timbers Lara Lizzie Timbers Lara
Lizzie Lara is the Development and Communications Director at YNPNsfba. In her role, she oversees the development, membership and marketing committees. Lizzie started her nonprofit career in high school when she was President of a conservation nonprofit, she has been dedicated to social good ever since. Her day job, is at the Homeless Action Center in Oakland, where she works as the Administrative Assistant. She is passionate about human rights, social justice and Latin America. Follow her on Twitter @LizzieTimbers
Volunteer icon from Wilson Joseph via The Noun Project