YNPN Blog: Resources, People, Ideas

Tools we #nplove

We asked our Launchpad Fellows to tell us about a few of the tools and resources that they #nplove.
Ebony Harley, Chapter Resources Coordinator:

Ebony Harley, Chapter Resources Coordinator Ebony Harley, Chapter Resources Coordinator
When I began high school, my classmates and I were encouraged to use daily planners as a way to keep us organized as new high school students. Like little minions, we wrote down every assignment, practice exercise, and test date. Fast forward almost 10 years later, and that habit has stuck with me.

The perfect complements to any planner for a busy nonprofit professional are….(drumroll please)…colorful pens! I know. I’m a dork.

Just in case you think this post is made up – here’s a pic of my calendar and my new, cool, erasable pens.

plannerAnother that I’m loving is the YNPN Leaders Site…cliché I know, BUT I do. The Leaders’ Site was developed last year by the previous Chapter Support LaunchPad Fellow – Ashley Hartman. She did a fantastic job of organizing various documents and also managed to cultivate a space for chapters to share resources. On the site, chapter leaders have posted various presentations, chapter board documents, and even program documents – just to name a few.The site is pretty easy to navigate, but if you need a tutorial, Ashley has a short YouTube tutorial that will help you AND I’m also here if you have any questions or concerns!  If you ever need some inspiration, the leaders’ site is a great first stop and it’s also where we’ll store Chapter Congress docs as well as resources from the Program XChanges!  Oh…and if your chapter has documents that you’d like to archive on the Leaders site, please feel free to add them here


Jessica Jesswein, Conference Coordinator:

Jess Jesswein, Conference Coordinator Jess Jesswein, Conference Coordinator
Google Docs are perfect for anyone who is working remotely, or working with a group of people who are not always together. I love that you can edit the document at the same time as someone else, it continuously saves, and it's just easy to avoid sending attachments with emails all the time. Just link to the document, they can open and edit immediately! It tracks changes automatically which is also great.
The fact that I'm not searching for the latest version of a document has saved me so much time and energy.
Jamie Smith, Communications Coordinator:

Jamie Smith, Communications Coordinator Jamie Smith, Communications Coordinator

I use Canva almost daily to produce custom graphics for YNPN. You can't do as much with Canva as you can with Photoshop and InDesign, but it's a lifesaver for those of us without expert graphic design skills.

I'm late to the Buffer party, but it makes posting to social media so efficient. If someone would make a super tool that combines the posting efficiency of Buffer, the stream viewing setup of Hootsuite, and the reporting of Sprout Social, I would be in social media manager heaven.
Lynda.com and Skillshare are where I go to learn new skills affordably. I love having so much knowledge at my fingertips. Right now I'm in the midst of an InDesign class. (Don't worry, Canva, I will always love you!)

What are the tools and resources you #nplove?


New Startup Chapters: Knoxville and Omaha!

We're so excited to welcome YNPN Knoxville and YNPN Omaha to the network as our two newest Startup chapters!

Not only is Omaha Peyton Manning's audible call of choice, it's also got a pretty awesome flag:



Knoxville isn't too shabby either. Check out this gorgeous skyline:

3014540302_9e3e9e4199_b Photo by Tim Bounds
We can't wait to see what these awesome YNPs will bring to the network!
If you're a young nonprofit professional in either of these cities who wants to get involved with your up-and-coming local chapters, get in touch with info@ynpn.org!

The triumph of #nplove

This blog post almost didn't get written, for all of the usual reasons blog posts don't get written: no time to focus, other projects that felt more pressing, and a need to sleep and eat every now and then. I was running behind on life, not to mention my YNPN responsibilities, and I didn't know how I would get it all done.

But if I'm honest with myself and with you, another reason this post almost didn't get written is because I was scared. Let me back up and tell you why.

When I found out that Random Acts of Kindness Week would oh-so-serendipitously overlap with Valentine's Day, I knew that I needed to figure out some way to incorporate it into YNPN's #nplove content for the month (a nonprofit communicator never sleeps, y'all). I decided it would be fun to send valentines to a few organizations and people I really admire to acknowledge the fantastic work they do. Who doesn't love a handwritten note? Also, it was an excuse to go to Paper Source.

You can always count on Paper Source for a good pun.

You can always count on Paper Source for a good pun.

And then I got busy. Really busy. And before I knew it, it was the evening of the day I had planned to send the cards so they would arrive in time for Valentine's Day, and I hadn't even thought about what I was going to write.

So I started to talk myself out of it. Here's a list of the reasons why I told myself this was a bad idea:

Reason: "Well, it won't arrive in time for V-Day and people will be confused."

Reality: People know how calendars and the USPS work. Being in the vicinity of Valentine's Day would be good enough. This is one of those times when it's the thought that counts.

Reason: "They don't know who I am, what do they care that I think they're awesome?"

Reality: One of the reasons I love these folks is that they are so thoughtful and audience-focused in everything they do. They may not know who I am, but I bet it will make their day to hear about why their work matters to someone.

Reason: "Uhh, isn't a little weird to just tell someone that they're cool?"

Reality: Of all the silly reasons I came up with not to do this, this one might be the most silly and a little bit sad. When did it become weird or uncool to tell someone else that you think they're pretty stinkin' great? (No, that's literally what the card said.)

photo 1 (11)
It was around then that I realized I was a little bit scared to do this. I was scared to step out and acknowledge the importance of someone else's work in my life because I was too busy to do it at exactly the right time, because I felt I wasn't significant enough for my opinion to matter, and because I thought it might be weird. All of those reasons are pretty stinkin' bad.

One of the best parts of managing YNPN's social media accounts this month has been seeing all of the #nplove tweets and comments. But I also know that there are a lot more people out there who are feeling the love but haven't shared yet, maybe for some of the reasons I was scared to do so. This post is for all of you.

Yep, that's a Johnny Cash stamp. Who's uncool now? Still me? Ok.


Yep, that's a Johnny Cash stamp. Who's uncool now? Still me? Ok.
So I want to know: Whose work do you think deserves a valentine, even if it's a virtual one?

jamiesmithheadshotJamie Smith is the Launchpad Communications Fellow for YNPN. In addition to her work for YNPN, she works with nonprofit organizations to amplify their impact with clear and compelling communications. As a freelance writer and content strategist, she loves helping organizations across the nonprofit sector connect with their supporters.

Why I #nplove YNPN

YNPN National Board member Jessie Singer counts the many ways she loves YNPN.

Roses are red, violets are blue, I love YNPN and you should too!

In all honesty, YNPN is the place where I feel like I truly belong and that I'm amongst the most inspiring young nonprofit professionals that are moving mountains across the country.

Every time I am lacking motivation, need a boost of adrenaline or have lost my passion for my work, I can immediately find a YNPN friend and remember why I dedicate my life to the nonprofit sector.

YNPN is truly a place for me, to be who I really am: an extremely motivated, passionate, career-focused, young, nonprofit professional, who wants to make a REAL difference in the world… not just in my nonprofit, not just in my community, but in the WORLD! (Yes, I dream BIG!)

YNPN is comprised of individuals across the United States (and I hear the latest is that we’ve started to take over, I mean join forces, with our Canadian friends) who live, work and breathe mission-based work. Not all of us spend our day jobs working in the nonprofit sector, but at the end of the day we all share a passion for helping others.

This network is the place where we can take time to professionally develop our own skills to be better individuals. Through social events we network with one another and through educational seminars we hone in on our skills to ensure that our network is a force to be reckoned with.

If you aren’t feeling the #nplove lately, find me via Facebook, Twitter (@NonprofitJessie), LinkedIn, Google Chat, text, phone, etc. etc. and I’ll share some YNPN love with you!

2Jessie Singer is the Executive Director for the American Lung Association in California – San Diego. Jessie is originally from the suburbs of Chicago where she left for the hot, hot, hot weather in Tucson, AZ to become a University of Arizona Wildcat before moving to Phoenix to start her professional career.

After 10 years in the heat, Jessie moved to San Diego in 2012 to work on improving the air quality and lung health in Southern California. Jessie is an active member of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (ynpn.org) serving on the YNPN National and San Diego Boards. Thanks to the #nplove and support of YNPN, Jessie is a nonprofiteer for life & is proud to be associated with her colleagues across the country.

#nplove: Reunited and it feels so good

This weekend our National Board and Launchpad Fellows had the opportunity to come together from across the country and meet in person to discuss what's next for YNPN in 2014.

These retreat opportunities are so special and so important to the work that we do. YNPN is incredibly grateful for the support of the Denver Foundation, which hosted our most recent retreat; the Ford Foundation, which hosted our January 2013 retreat in New York; and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which regularly opens up its Baltimore office to the YNPN team.

The support we receive from these organizations is not just logistical and financial. Most importantly, we are grateful for their enthusiastic support of our mission and the work that we do. Thank you to the Denver Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation for your #nplove!


I {Heart} Nonprofits

YNPN Twin Cities member Dania Toscano Miwa talks about why she's never gonna give up the nonprofit sector.

Seriously, what’s not to love? Organizations working to make social change, fix big hairy problems and impact change, both locally and globally. Staff who dedicate their careers and purpose to a mission and to improve our world.

Plus, of course, our volunteers and supporters, both in and out of the boardroom, who give away their time, talent and resources in support of what we do. It all adds up to a commitment, a values statement, an ideal.

Again I say, what’s not to love?

For me, growing up with two parents working for nonprofits, I never really even thought about it. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I’m going to devote my career to the betterment of the nonprofit sector.” It wasn’t a conscious choice. I found myself naturally gravitating to organizations and mission driven work. I wanted to “do something” and work for a place that cared about my values and value.

I do remember bombing a job interview at a bank. I knew it was over when I was told the volunteer section of my resume was of no value to this institution, and I would be best to remove it from my resume.  That would have eliminated almost all of my practical work experience, which I had gained from volunteering in offices at various organizations in high school and college.

What was left was my job at a doggy day-care. If I had taken that advice, I would have “expert poo scooper” and “positive reinforcement training assistant” as the sum total of my work experience. (Although I have to say the positive reinforcement dog training actually does have practical use in certain nonprofit environments as well, but I digress.)

Another reason I love this sector is the information-generous nature of the sector and its people. Most of the time when I’m working through a challenge with an organization, I can pick up the phone and chat with a colleague who has probably dealt with a similar issue and is willing to help troubleshoot.

This spirit of generosity permeates the sector. For example, there are free superb resources available here in Minnesota, such as the Principals & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence. In addition, there are the numerous national resource organizations such as BoardSource, with tons of resources dedicated to training effective board members, and CharityChannel, a great peer-to-peer networking site for fundraising professionals, plus a publishing arm. Idealist is especially useful to young professionals for professional skill building.

Many “helper organizations” are active in my region with the sole purpose and mission  to guide, educate, support and train nonprofit organizations.  In Minnesota, we have an extraordinarily strong Nonprofit state association, The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.   Additionally, there are such organizations as the Nonprofit Assistance Fund, MACC Commonwealth, MAP for Nonprofits, Charities Review Council, Nonprofit Resources Collaborative and more. These organizations and many more devote themselves to the betterment of the sector and its people and to continuously help organizations become more efficient, effective and maximize their impact.

I have worked, volunteered and supported organizations for my entire career and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

I plan to stay connected to the nonprofit sector for the entirety of my career and I know many of my colleagues have pledged the same. Now if that’s not love and devotion, I don’t know what is!

Dania Toscana MiwaDania Toscano Miwa is the Managing Principal and co-founder of Toscano Advisors, a three-year old consulting firm specializing in strategy, fundraising, executive recruiting and leadership development for nonprofit organizations.

She has more than ten years of experience working with/for nonprofits as diverse as the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, OTA-Pollen, The Northside Achievement Zone, The International Wolf Center, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Animal Humane Society, the American Indian Cancer Foundation and the Regional Parks Foundation. She is co-author and editor of the Toscano Advisors blog.

Dania is a member of the Boards of Directors of Azul, the Minnesota Zoo’s young professional board and chair of the governance committee, and on the board of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, where she is the co-chair of the development and outreach committee. She was formerly on the board of directors of her local YNPN chapter from 2009-10.

Your #workresolutions for 2014

At the beginning of this month, we asked you about your professional intentions for the year. We weren't surprised that many of our members were already thinking about how to make 2014 a great year professionally.
As we wrap up our #workresolutions series, we wanted to share some of the tweets and LinkedIn comments we got about your intentions for 2014:




  Catching up on professional development was a popular resolution:


And even our ED Trish got in on the action:

The most common theme, however, was the need to do less and restore work/life balance. YNPN member Natasha Golinksy wrote a great post on reverse resolutions, or choosing things that you're not going to do in the year ahead. This idea hit home for quite a few people:




Did any of these resolutions resonate with you? It's not too late to share your #workresolution with us in the comments.

Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion on Twitter and LinkedIn to share your #workresolutions with us. Every month we'll be talking about a new topic here on the blog and on social media, so make sure you're connected and part of the conversation.

One final note: At the end of our January newsletter, we took a quick poll as to whether our members set new year's resolutions or not. The answers were almost equally split, with 54% saying they do and 46% saying resolutions just aren't their thing.
Regardless of whether or not resolutions are your jam, we wish you a year filled with professional success!

Leaping into Consulting: My Recent Career Adventure

YNPN National Board member Cat Beltmann talks about the adventure she's embarking on in 2014 and shares a few tips for going out on your own.

Last August, I made one of the biggest career decisions of my life. I decided to start my own consulting business. I had never worked for myself, really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but knew that I had to make a change. I had worked with a number of consultants over the years and decided they had the best jobs ever. Doesn’t sleeping in, working on projects you want to work on, and sitting at your desk in pajamas sound amazing?!

I couldn’t officially make the leap until November, but decided that my first move needed to be talking to my boss. I knew that he would be supportive of my decision and I wanted his blessing to start talking to mutual contacts about my transition. The last thing I wanted to happen was for him to find out through the grapevine that I was quitting. Thankfully, our conversation went a million times better than expected. During my transition, I spent countless hours getting advice from anyone and everyone. I’ve learned a lot during the past few months. Sadly, my initial picture of consulting work was a bit skewed, but it’s been an amazing journey so far.

So, what advice have I found helpful?

1. Whether or not to set-up a work day routine is a big debate. Some people recommended acting like you are going to an office – shower, shave, and get dressed in work clothes. Others recommended just going with the flow. Work when you want and wear your pajamas if you so desire. I think you just need to find what works best for you. Attempt a structured routine and if you hate it make adjustments. What works for one person might not work for you.

2. If you work from home create a workspace. It’s easy to be reminded of all of the housework you could/should take care of when you’re sitting in the middle of it, and on the flip side it can be hard to stop working if you’re constantly sitting by your laptop. Working for yourself shouldn’t be an excuse to toss work-life balance out the window and designating a workspace can help. I was lucky enough to have a room that I could convert into an office. If you don’t have a separate room then carve out a corner of your kitchen, bedroom, or living room. Set-up a desk and use it when you’re working. Establish an office closing time, leave your desk, and don’t go back until the next day.

3. Working for yourself is very different than working for someone else. You’ll quickly realize there is a big difference between running your business and doing business. You are your technology person, bookkeeper, personal assistant, and chief marketing officer. Clients aren’t paying you for the time spent fixing your printer or setting up invoices. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you’ll have to spend actually running your business. You might be working 60 hours a week, but you’re probably only getting paid for half of that (if you are lucky).

4. There are tools and apps that will make your life so much easier. Use them! Do your research and ask around. Two of the first things you’ll need to figure out is what it will cost you to run your business and how much you should charge. Freelance Switch has a great rate calculator to help you figure that out. I love using Toggl to track my time and Wave for accounting.

5. This sounds cliché, but believe in yourself and trust your instincts. My grandpa once gave my brother the advice that when you get to a four way stop just close your eyes and go. Terrible driving advice but great life advice. Close your eyes and go has become my personal mantra. If you’re going to succeed you have to trust yourself and your abilities. Every time I start to panic and doubt myself I just remember to close my eyes and go. I’ve never regretted doing it and have found that I’ve succeed more times than I’ve failed.

6. Don’t forget to breathe. A friend sent me an email on my last day at my job old, she told me to take a deep breath – enjoy my last day and then take a few days before I started stressing out about finding work. The emotions and stress that go along with starting your own business can be overwhelming. I am fortunate and am off to a very solid start, but every few days I panic. I panic about finding work, if this was good financial decision, and the list goes on. After of few minutes of panic, I remind myself to take a deep breath. It’s impossible to control the future and uncertainty is part of the game. Panic won’t help you lock in your next contract or produce better work. It will only prevent you from being successful.

7. This is your journey. The most important lesson that I’ve learned is that my journey is my own. No one has all of the answers, no one piece of advice is better than another, and every journey looks a little different. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Originally published at Leadership & Community

Cat BeltmannCat Beltmann is the owner of So Good Consulting where she partners with organizations to create and sustain social value through events and community engagement initiatives. Recent clients include the Bush Foundation, the Office of the Secretary of State, and Mylan Communications Consulting.

In her previous position, she served as the Community Engagement Manager for the Citizens League where she was in charge of developing, coordinating, and implementing numerous small and large scale events. She served as the League’s event manager for the Policy and a Pint series, a partnership between the Citizens League and 89.3 the Current.

She managed event concept development, sponsor recruitment, budget development, and event implementation for 6 of the Citizens League’s annual meetings, which draw approximately 300 attendees annually and have feature both local and national keynote speakers. Most recently, she was the catalyst for the creation of the Generation Now Leadership Visit, a 3-day leadership development trip that took 50 current and rising professionals from Minnesota to Milwaukee.

Cat holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and will receive a Masters in Nonprofit Management in the summer of 2014. She is also sits on the national board for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

Cat can be contacted at Cat@SoGoodConsulting.org, linkedin.com/in/catbeltmann, or twitter.com/KittyBeltmann

Eat, Pray, Coach

The past several years of surveying and talking with our members have made it clear that Individual Coaching & Support is one of the most important pillars for personal and professional development.

Unfortunately, it's also the area that emerging leaders often have the least access to, both in terms of finding these resources and paying for them.
We here at YNPN believe very strongly that everyone should have access to individual coaching and support. The work of changing the world and building stronger communities is not only incredibly important, it’s also ridiculously complex. Understanding how each of us can best fit into that equation is also incredibly important and complex. So while sometimes all you need to be a better contributor is a really informative workshop and a solid network of community contacts, often times the help you need to figure out your contribution requires much more of a personal touch.

Sisters, Brothers, I’ve Been to the Coaching Mountaintop

When I took on the job of being the first national director of YNPN, nearly everyone I spoke with recommended that I find a coach.
“No, thank you,” I said.  “Coaches are for ladies who lunch and people who read Eat, Pray, Love,” I explained helpfully. “I will rely on grit and sheer will to do this ridiculously hard thing that I’ve never done before. KThanksBye.”

Basically I saw coaching as too much of a privilege and an indulgence. But within two months of taking on the position, I was so desperate for help that I wasn’t even sheepish about going back to these folks and asking them to recommend someone--anyone--who could make me feel like the world wasn’t spinning.

I’ve worked with an executive coach now for over two years and have since become a bit of a proselytizer about its benefits. It does still feel like an enormous privilege to have someone providing me with such direct, individualized support every week. But rather than turning down something that I know is incredibly valuable for me because not everyone has access to it, I have made it part of my personal mission and our organizational mission to make sure that many more people can take advantage of this powerful tool.



So what’s a coach and what does a coach do?

Well, the International Coaches Federation describes coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”  But when my friends and colleagues ask me about what my coach does, I basically say three things: She reminds me of my strengths, she helps me set priorities, and she convinces me each week that I’m not ruining everything. It’s kind of awesome.

Increasing access to coaching is just one of the targeted ways that we’re working to unlock the potential of an entire generation of social change leaders. You can help us zero in on the best strategy for helping members access coaching by completing this super-short survey and sharing it with your friends. Help us help you!

And if you want to read more about the transformative power of coaching, check out this blog post from one of our former LaunchPad Fellows, Betty-Jeanne Reuters-Ward.

Take our coaching survey to let us know how we can best help you with coaching resources.

#workresolutions: Make your own projects

YNPN member Alexa Riner tells us about her #workresolution for 2014.

This year I've decided to jump off into the deep end. The economy is sluggish at best and has been for years now, and I’m getting discouraged looking for the right job doing the kind of work I want to be doing. I have ten years of project management skills that aren’t getting utilized. It’s time for me to make it happen.

This is my New Year’s resolution for 2014: I am going to go out and create interesting work for myself rather than wait for it to come to me.

I'm embarking on a research project to examine my local community infrastructure and locate leverage points to improve the ways we construct where we live, learn, work, and play. I’m interested in the rules we make and how these rules are enforced. In my past architectural work, I’ve seen some poorly-incentivized practices. I’d like to have a hand in improving those practices and making them more accessible to a wider set of community members.

Not only do I have a goal, I’m designing a system to help me reach it. I’ve already written up my process outline and I'm setting up ticklers in my calendar for each step. I’m going to look up statistics, headlines, and trends in community infrastructure.

Then I’m going to conduct informational interviews with a variety of people involved in different sectors of construction, from owners to builders to regulators. Then I will have some sense of what my community wants or needs and how we might go about getting it.

What’s nice about this idea is that it makes networking a breeze. Instead of going around to people asking them how I can get a job, I’ll be going around asking them about what they do and how they are impacted and what their needs are. It gives my networking endeavors a context. I have a deeper reason for talking to them, and I’ll be genuinely interested in what they have to say instead of distracted by my own financial situation. I believe this reframe is important.

It is so easy to get stuck thinking I need someone else to agree to pay me before I can do what I want to be doing. In 2014, I’m turning that whole problem on its head.

UntitledAlexa Riner is an architectural designer, organization development consultant, and co-founder of the infrapreneurial consulting firm Roots to Success: Whole System Consulting, which works to build strong community organizations and partnerships in Northern California. You can find Alexa on Twitter at @rokuloquat.