YNPN Blog: Resources, People, Ideas

Network Leadership: five steps to strengthening your network

This guest post from the YNPN National Leaders Conference comes to us from Sarah Kinser, founding co-chair of YNPN Little Rock and communications director for Arkansas Community Foundation. You can find her on Twitter @sarahkinser.

How can you build a movement to create meaningful change?

That's the question underlying Marissa Tirona's presentation on network leadership  at this year''s CompassPoint Nonprofit Day conference. Tirona, senior project director for CompassPoint offered a primer on this emerging leadership model, which emphasizes creating change through open collaboration, experimentation and shared leadership.

The practical takeaways for YNPN members?

1. Map your network. How connected are you, really? Take a snapshot of your network by plotting out connections with individuals and organizations on a web. You'll be able to visualize trends and patterns in the way people connect, and you'll be able to identify key partners who can help you extend your network's reach.

Set a goal to reach out to less-connected members of your web to help them establish more relationships, or target a few new organizations to add to your web.

Marc_Smith www.everystockphoto.com
Tirona recommends plotting your network map using bubbl.us, a free online tool for mind-mapping and brainstorming.

2. Identify "network weavers". Help your network thrive by recruiting leaders who will build and nurture connections. Every team needs:

  • Weavers/Connectors who excel in meeting new contacts (people) and matching people with others who share overlapping interests.
  • Project Coordinators who manage tasks, keep ideas moving forward, and maintain contact with team members.
  • Network Facilitators who convene people and help focus the network.
  • Network Guardians who nurture the network by establishing systems, communications processes, and resources.
It's not necessary for every team member to possess every skill. Tirona notes, "You can identify other people who have those skills and behaviors and competences and bring them together into a team".
3. De-centralize communication. One of the key ways network leadership differs from traditional organizational leadership is its assumption that anyone and everyone is a potential leader. Leadership is shared fluidly based on the situation and the skills needed at the moment.

That means everyone has to be in the know! Rather than holding key institutional knowledge within a central insider group, network leadership advocates throwing open the doors to create transparency and share knowledge. Within your organization, you can institutionalize communication practices that keep the entire network informed via social media, wikis, blogs, open meetings or member summits.

4. Position yourself (or your organization) to be a collaborator.Tirona says that one of the best ways to build your network is to start by listening. For YNPN chapters, that might mean taking a tour of nonprofits to hear about their work and to ask what services the YNPN chapter could offer that would be beneficial to their employees, or conducting a survey of other key organizations working to build the local nonprofit sector to learn about how their services overlap with, or are distinct from, YNPN's. Starting the conversation by listening creates an open space where natural partnerships can form.

 5. Learn more. Tirona recommends these resources for nonprofiteers interested in learning more about network leadership:

 
How is your chapter working to expand its network and share leadership?
 
 

YNPN Chapter Impact- Updates from #ynpn12

Coming to you from the 2012 YNPN Leaders Conference, YNPN chapters in attendance at the conference reported on their key accomplishments since the last time we gathered together as a network.
Every year this conference brings together chapter leaders from around the country to share ideas, energy, and perspectives on how we can take our work to the next level. Exciting things to come in the next year!

 

Chronicle Highlights Challenges Facing Entry Level Nonprofit Workers: YNPN Lends Loud Voice


This past June, YNPN partnered with the Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance to survey our members about issues facing entry level workers in the nonprofit sector.

Over half of the 900 respondents identified as YNPN members.  So the survey results - which provided enough data for four compelling articles featured in the June 28, 2012 issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy - not only tells the story of what is happening for young people accross the sector, but gives special insight into the experience of those attracted to the YNPN network.  Together the four articles tell the story of critical challenges facing our constituents, from concerns over healthcare access to mounting debt - challenges which mirror those of so many workers in America and the vulnerable populations often served by our sector.


To read the full articles, click through to the links below (Chronicle login required for some):

 

A Continuing Partnership: Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and YNPN

One of the stories that lives in YNPN lore is that in 1998, it was awarded its very first grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, with the help of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services (where most of the network’s founders were working at the time and the first home of the fledgling YNPN group in San Francisco.) The group was so excited for the vote of confidence and the support, but there was one problem.

“Back then, YNPN enjoyed such great support from its own community members (both time and dollars) to run the day-to-day programming and work, that actually spending the grant became a little bit of a challenge," recalls Nelson Layag, current Training Director for CompassPoint and one of the founding members of YNPN. “The grant, though, was important for YNPN to take the next step -  allowing the San Francisco chapter to thrive and eventually support the emergence of YNPN chapters around the country.”

Ultimately the group used the money to invest in some strategic planning and a marketing and outreach intern who helped give the group its first major membership boost. The story, however, offers insight into the culture of each organization—Haas, Jr. as a funder ready and willing to invest early in ideas with enormous potential impact, CompassPoint Nonprofit Services as an organization on the vanguard of supporting the next generation of nonprofit leaders, and YNPN as an organization focused on growing and diversifying its reach into communities from the very beginning.

Today, as that original chapter in the San Francisco Bay Area celebrates its 15-year anniversary and YNPN as a network stands at 34 chapters and 40,000 members strong, the Haas Jr. Fund has once again signaled its willingness to invest in important ideas at critical moments.  Last week, the Haas, Jr. Fund made a generous award to YNPN National to help underwrite the cost of its annual YNPN National Leaders Conference, held this year in conjunction with the celebration of CompassPoint’s 25th Annual Nonprofit Day.

We hope you’ll join us in thanking the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund for their continued commitment to YNPN. To learn more about the foundation’s progressive investments in cultivating leadership for the nonprofit sector, visit http://www.haasjr.org/.

YNPN Members Save 50% on Books from Wiley and Jossey-Bass


YNPN is partnering with Wiley and Josey Bass to provide a discount on several nonprofit management publications and resources! We're grateful for the opportunity to share this with YNPN members across the country.
Here are just a few titles you may be interested in:

 Forces for Good, Revised and Updated by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant

What makes great nonprofits great? In the original book, authors Crutchfield and McLeod Grant employed a rigorous research methodology derived from for-profit books like Built to Last. They studied 12 nonprofits that have achieved extraordinary levels of impact—from Habitat for Humanity to the Heritage Foundation—and distilled six counterintuitive practices that these organizations use to change the world.

 

 Nonprofit Sustainability by Jeanne Bell, Jan Masaoka, and Steve Zimmerman

“Most nonprofits struggle to find a long-term sustainable business model that will enable them to deliver impact on their mission…This book offers practical, concrete steps you can take to develop your own unique path to sustainability without compromising your mission.” —Heather McLeod Grant, consultant, Monitor Institute, and author, Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits
 
 

Banding Together for a Cause

Experience the yellow wristband campaign from the beginning and learn how to position your nonprofit for success.
Passionate and inspiring, Banding Together for a Cause will help you identify ways to generate funds for your programs and missions through valuable and meaningful partnerships. In it, author Rachel Armbruster dissects the LIVESTRONG campaign, from timing and brand, to partners and visionary thinking.
 
 
 

Nonprofit Management 101 by Darian Rodriguez Hayman

This book provides nonprofit professionals with the conceptual frameworks, practical knowledge, and concise guidance needed to succeed in the social sector. Designed as a handbook, the book is filled with sage advice and insights from a variety of trusted experts that can help nonprofit professionals prepare to achieve their organizational and personal goals, develop a better understanding of what they need to do to lead, support, and grow an effective organization.
 

The Nonprofit Marketing Guide by Kivi Leroux-Miller

This down-to-earth book shows how to hack through the bewildering jungle of marketing options and miles-long to-do lists to clear a marketing path that’s right for your organization, no matter how understaffed or underfunded. You’ll see how to shape a marketing program that starts from where you are now and grows with your organization, using smart and savvy communications techniques, both offline and online. Combining big-picture management and strategic decision-making with reader-friendly tips for implementing a marketing program day in and day out, this book provides a simple yet powerful framework for building support for your organization’s mission and programs.

The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine

This groundbreaking book shows nonprofits a new way of operating in our increasingly connected world: a networked approach enabled by social technologies, where connections are leveraged to increase impact in effective ways that drive change for the betterment of our society and planet
 
 
 Order before May 31, 2012, when you use PROMO CODE YNPN5 at checkout on www.wiley.com, we’ll take 50% off your entire order.

Webinar: Chapter Strategic Planning

Our first chapter leader webinar for the year is here!!
Strategic planning for your YNPN chapter does not have to be mission-impossible. There are true and tried steps for ensuring that your chapter's next strategic planning process runs smoothly and effectively. For a year, a cross-collaboration group of YNPN chapters have met regularly to discuss strategies, tips, and resources to help them navigate strategic planning for their chapters and now they are ready to share those lessons-learned with the network. Using YNPN Boston, YNPNsfba and YNPN Chicago as case studies, this webinar will explore the various ways these chapters have approached strategic planning, their lessons-learned, and steps they created to ensure the outputs from their strategic planning process "lives" on in their every-day chapter work.
Date: May 11, 2012
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 PM EDT
Host: YNPN National (Ese Emerhi), YNPNsfba (Karen Kwok, former Board member), YNPN Boston (Lindsay Jensen), and YNPN Chicago (Steve Strang)
To register for the webinar, please click the following link from GoToWebinar:
Looking forward to connecting with you all soon during the webinar,

Guest Post: The 4-step program for successfully networking as an introvert

This post originally appeared on YNPN Twin Cities' blog and was written by board members Jamie Millard and Chris Oien . You can follow them on Twitter: @jjmillard and @coien.
 
Networking is important. You know that, and we know that. It’s pretty much a given. But what do you do if just the thought of networking makes you want to crawl into a hole? We’ve both been there, because we are two of the roughly 25% of people who are introverts.

When it came time for each of us to go to our first YNPN networking event, we debated whether or not to go, and eventually skipped out—leaving a sick feeling in our stomachs. We later did get involved with YNPN; and when we met each other, we realized we had both bailed on the same event. While it had been a lonely experience, neither of us was alone in it, and knowing that was a huge relief.

So in hopes of helping fellow introverts with their networking anxieties, we’re sharing the steps we took to overcome our own.

Step 1: Research the group and key people.

The most effective treatment to resolve your networking anxiety is a heavy dose of preparation. That begins with knowing beforehand who is likely to be at the networking event. Most networking groups or conferences will have some sort of online presence where you can begin your research. For example, if you’re going to attend a YNPN event, you could research board members on the website, members in the directory, see who RSVPs to the Facebook event, or who is talking about the event on Twitter.

A good place to start is to find people you share something with. This can be people in your industry (arts, direct service, environmental, etc.) or people who do the same kind of work (marketing, fundraising, advocacy, etc.). Also, it is helpful to identify a “super connector” that makes sense for you to fold into your network.

Step 2: Connect on social media.
After you’ve completed your research and identified the people you want to connect with, it’s a good idea to reach out to them before an event. Social media has made this easier than ever, especially with young and tech-savvy groups. The top site to turn to is Twitter: Making connections to people you should know is part of its DNA. LinkedIn is also a great resource for connecting to new people on a professional level.

If you connect with members of a networking group and let them know you’re interested in joining, it’s a good bet they’ll be glad to talk to you. Whether you keep it to talking online or ask for an in-person meeting, when it’s event time you’ll be glad to know there are people involved who will recognize you and can introduce you to others.

Step 3: Know your talking points.

 You’ve researched people, you’ve connected with them on social media, and now you’re ready to dive into conversation, but not until you’ve properly prepared talking points. Talking points can be a combination of referencing the theme of the event and asking simple questions.

Themed networking events, like speed networking or an ugly sweater party, provide more structured activities and fun icebreakers to ease the flow of conversation. These types of networking events ensure that you’ll worry much less about being on the sideline while other people talk.

Whether or not your networking event has a theme, be ready with a list of questions to ask the people you meet. Keep your questions simple (e.g. How did you get involved with this networking group?), so you don’t forget them or get tripped up. Making certain to have questions ready ahead of time reduces anxiety and avoids those uncomfortable long pauses.

Step 4: Set specific goals.

 It’s important to leave a networking event feeling like a success. To do so, come with goals you’ve set for yourself beforehand (e.g. talk to a specific person, network with at least three people, etc.). Once you reach these goals, feel free to excuse yourself. If you go right after an awkward exchange or after you’ve sat in the corner alone for a while, you’re going to feel like a failure and this will strongly deter your motivation to attend future events. If you instead leave after ticking that last goal off your list, you’ll feel accomplished and encouraged to keep coming back. Introverts will likely always have that initial networking anxiety, but by following these steps, you can learn to master it and become just as successful as the most outgoing extrovert.

Fellow introverts: What are your best networking tips and tricks? And for the extroverts: What do you do to help the introverts at networking events feel comfortable?

Let us know in the comments!

Guest Post: Approach your nonprofit career like a creative entrepreneur

Image credit Hugh McLeod

This post originally appeared on YNPN NYC's blog and was written by YNPN NYC member Eleanore Whitney.

As an emerging nonprofit professional do you see yourself as an entrepreneur? Not just a social entrepreneur who is working to implement innovative ideas to enact social change, but yourself? Do you view your own career an entrepreneur would a start up?
I recently read a slew of books aimed at creative entrepreneurs, including Creative, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelart Cho, which is a practical guide about how to launch a freelance creative business; and Birthing the Elephant by Karen Abarbenel and Bruch Freeman, which sells itself as a woman’s guide to launching her own business (and has a terrible name, but is full of good advice).

Though I work full time for an arts non-profit I found myself inspired by the ideas and strategies these books presented. As someone with a steady paycheck sometimes I feel I have lost track of the fact that I, and I alone, am responsible for my career advancement and professional development. This is not to say that nonprofits should not opportunities for employee growth, but I realized that we as young nonprofit professionals can empower ourselves by thinking about our career like an entrepreneur thinks about their start up.

The bottom line is that we do not have to wait for the organizations we work for to give us permission to be pro-active and entrepreneurial about our careers. Based on my reading for creative entrepreneurs here are some ideas I have gleaned:

  • Have a personal mission statement
    • Businesses, both not and for profit, use a mission statement to guide what they do. A good mission statement outlines the purpose and scope of organization’s work, as well as their values. Adopt a similar approach to your professional life. What is your purpose for doing the type of work you do? What are your core values? What are you working to achieve?
    • Brainstorm, craft and refine your statement. You don’t have to show it to anyone, but being clear about your purpose will bring clarity and confidence to the work that you do.
  • Develop a vision for your career
    • A vision is an extension of your mission and is the larger picture that you are working to make a reality in your life. If you implement your mission statement by working purposely and in line with your values, where do you dream that work will take you?
  • Set goals that are measurable and attainable
    • Entrepreneurs approach their projects as a series of goals and actions steps. Approach your career in a similar manner. Develop your goals based on your mission and vision for your professional life and break those goals into smaller steps, such as learning a specific skill or volunteering to get experience in a certain kind of organization. The blog Design Sponge ran an excellent article about goal setting and planning. Read it to help you make your goals a reality.
  • Reassess often
    • If you are not meeting your goals or you are frustrated with a job turn it into an opportunity to reflect and reassess. Are you still on the path to realizing your vision? Has your vision for your career changed? Use what’s not working to diagnose what you need to 
  • Market yourself
    • You are your own best advocate. Drop false modesty and speak with confidence about what you would like to achieve in your career, what you are working on and what you would like to learn more about. Your enthusiasm will draw others in and help you make connections and open doors.
  • Adopt a brains before bucks mentality and invest in resources wisely
    • Be honest about your finances and do not over invest in goods, products or services that will make you feel more successful, but are a financial stretch. If there’s a skill you want to learn or an experience you want to have, find a way to make it happen for less money. Barter, volunteer, or arrange a skill share.  Investing sweat equity is better than going into debt!

While this is a small introduction to a huge topic, the key here is to shift your thinking to see yourself as an entrepreneur of your professional destiny. With this thinking you are empowered to dedicate yourself to achieving your vision whether you work full time, part-time, freelance or are staring your own organization.

Overall, thinking of your emerging professional career entrepreneurially means going beyond being proactive in your professional life. It requires you bring focus, drive, and a desire to innovate and achieve a vision for yourself as a nonprofit professional. You can harness these qualities by crafting a career mission statement, clarifying your vision and goals, reflecting on your practice often, advocating for yourself and wisely seeking out additional resources.

What have you done to approach your career entrepreneurially? What are your favorite resources for entrepreneurial thinking that you have found are most applicable to you in the nonprofit world?  And what entrepreneurial step will you take next in your nonprofit career? 


Eleanor Whitney is a writer, musician and arts administrator and project manager making it happen in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently the Program Officer for External Affairs and Fiscal Sponsorship at the New York Foundation for the Arts and received her Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. Read all of Eleanor’s posts for YNPN-NYC.

Guest Post: Paying for Student Loans on a Nonprofit Salary

The following guest post comes from YNPN Chicago member Melanie Hoekstra and originally appeared on YNPN Chicago's blog. We wanted to share this post as a follow up to guest post earlier in the year from blogger Heather Jarvis about newly released details on the documentation that nonprofit employees need to substantiate their eligibility for the student loan forgiveness program. Melanie does a great overview of how you make the "loan thing" work on a nonprofit salary.

You can also find more information on the public service loan forgiveness program by checking out the list resources Heather has curated.

Paying for Student Loans on a Nonprofit Salary

Can it be done? Can you eat more than ramen noodles for the next decade and still work at the non-profit job you love while paying back your hefty student loans? YES. Enter the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA). Under the CCRAA, you can: (1) pay your federal loans at a much lower monthly amount under the Income-Based repayment plan, and (2) have those federal loans forgiven after 120 payments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for people who work for 501(c)(3)s and government agencies (10 full-time years, not necessarily consecutively) . Seriously, this two-step process is an incredible option for anyone working in the non-profit world or for the government.

Lowering Your Monthly Loan Payments If you’re still in school (undergrad or graduate!), the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that as many of your loans as possible are from the federal government. These are generally called “Direct Loans” and can cover most to all of what you need to go to school. It’s important to note that CCRAA does not apply to private loans, which will generally require you to pay them back at the terms agreed upon when you started (though there are usually some options for graduated repayment, etc.). Talk to your school’s financial aid department about ensuring that your loans are some form of Direct Loans to remain eligible for the program.

If you are about to start repayment, you need to do two things. First, consolidate all of your eligible loans into one single loan through the Department of Education’s Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. Doing so makes your loan payments much simpler to track, after their consolidated, at least, and it also allows some loans like Perkins that are not eligible for PSLF to be rolled into the consolidated loan and become eligible. Second, during consolidation, be sure to select the Income-Based Repayment plan. IMPORTANT: Do not select the Income-Contingent Repayment plan, as it does not qualify you for loan forgiveness. Income-Based Repayment (IBR) estimates your monthly repayment amount at 15% of your disposable income. You can calculate your payments here.

Qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program To qualify for loan forgiveness, you must make 120 payments while you work full-time for a registered 501(c)(3), a government agency, or in a “public service” position, which includes public health and public education jobs, military, and legal aid positions. You don’t need to make the payments consecutively, so you could switch sectors and then come back, but be aware that this reduces the benefits of both programs. More specifics, along with lots of other details, can be found here and answers to frequently asked questions can be found here

Other Noteworthy Items Are those who started working for a non-profit or in a public service job before this law took effect eligible? It depends on the state of your loans now. If you consolidated your federal loans, then you can switch to the IBR plan, which will almost definitely lower your monthly payments. Any payments you made (under any repayment plan) while working full-time at a public service job since October 1, 2007 will count toward PSFL.

It’s also important to know that even if you do not qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program but instead only have a relatively low-paying job in non-qualifying sector (e.g. private sector), you can still get your loans forgiven. It takes 25 years and you have to be on either Income-Based Repayment or Income-Contingent Repayment, but it can be done.
There’s a lot of information about the College Cost Reduction and Access Act out there, but many people don’t know about it – so tell your friends! And find out more information here and here.

Melanie Hoekstra is the Operations Manager at The Plant, a vertical farm and food-business incubator.  She is a graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law and the University of Michigan. She cooks, reads, bikes, and sees her friends whenever she can.

Chapter Leaders: Share Your Chapter's "Good in Theory" Story!

YNPN National wants to hear from you! How has your chapter used the "Good in Theory" report?

As many of you know from the emails going across this listserve, the report has gained considerable traction since its release in Fall 2011:

  • In January, the Foundation Center did a podcast about the report with Trish and YNPNsfba Board Chair Amanda Pape Laneghan.
  • Just a few days later, The Chronicle of Philanthropy hosted Trish and Jan Masaoka for an online conversation about employee morale where report drove much of the discussion.
  • Idealist.org invited YNPN National to write a blog post about "Good in Theory."

In addition, some chapters and organizations are researching ways to conduct local versions of the national report. Others have integrated the report into their programming. Some have even hosted parties celebrating the report's release.
Help us keep all of this momentum going strong! Let us know what your chapter has done. Maybe your chapter's story will be featured by YNPN National!

Please complete the "Good in Theory" survey by Thursday, March 28. Please complete the survey even if your chapter has not yet done anything with the report. It will only take a few minutes and give National some valuable information about how the report has been used and how it can better support the chapters across the country.

We look forward to hearing from you and learning what your chapter has accomplished.