YNPN Blog: Resources, People, Ideas

Chapter Blog Spotlight - YNPN Denver: My 5 Week Networking & Job Blitz

photo by: John Donges


Written by Josh Gold and cross-posted from Inspire Denver Blog

My Five Week Networking & Job Blitz

A little over a year ago I found myself in uncharted territory. I had recently completed my master’s degree in nonprofit management and was looking to change careers from the faith-based nonprofit sector, where I had been for five years, to the general nonprofit sector and I didn’t know where to begin.

I began meeting with a family friend who became my career coach. Through her support and “assignments,” I started the craziest five weeks of my life which I now call my “five week networking blitz.” At the end of the five weeks I had met with 25 nonprofit professionals, applied for ten jobs, had three interviews and took a new position. My career search had become my full-time job.

As I look back on my five week networking blitz, there are six takeaways which made me successful in my career search.

You are looking to make connections not just get a job

Yes, the end goal is to find a job but don’t expect every conversation to be about getting a job. Not everyone is hiring but the connection you are meeting with may know about an opening. You are looking to build your “black book” of nonprofit contacts. People you can reach out to when you are struggling with something on the job and people who begin to think about you when a job opening occurs. These connections will be partners throughout your professional career.

Make a list of your nonprofit connections

Make a list of all of your nonprofit connections with their organization, position, phone number, email and mailing address. Highlight contacts who will be most beneficial to your search.

When first sitting down it may seem like your list is going to be short, but think about everyone you interact with. These people can include classmates, past colleagues, someone you met through YNPN Denver, board members, or organizations at which you volunteer. Another challenge would be to add people who work at your “dream” organization. This may be a stretch, but remember, you are only looking to make a connection, not get a job offer.

Ask for an informational meeting

Once you have come up with your list of nonprofit professionals, begin setting up informational meetings with these individuals. Once again, you are looking for information which will help you professionally. If you know you are looking to move from programming to development, meet with a development director and ask questions about what working in development looks like and how you can break into the field.

Remember, people love to talk about their jobs and why they do it. You are interviewing them and you are telling them about you and what type of position you are looking for. At these informational meetings also ask them for some of the best resources they have used in their own profession.

If you meet them for coffee or lunch, offer to pay. Don’t forget, they are taking time out of their schedules to meet with you and offering to pay shows you value the conversation.

Ask for two additional connections

At each informational meeting ask your contact for two additional contacts that may be beneficial for your job search. You are trying to spread your networking net as far as you can, but depending on your professional experience your initial net might be small. By reaching out to their contacts you are meeting with new connections that may have other leads. Instead of just you looking for a job you now have four people looking for opportunities.

From my initial list of 30 connections I ended up with a list of over 60 people. I am now connected to people whose paths I would never have crossed if I hadn’t asked for additional contacts.

Write a handwritten thank you note

This by far is the most important step to the networking blitz. You need to send a handwritten thank you note for your informational meeting. Why handwritten? You want to show that the conversation was valuable and deserves the time it takes to write a handwritten message. In the note write about the meeting, thank them for the connections (reminding them to send you their information if they haven’t given it to you) and write about something specifically that was talked about at the meeting. For example, if they said they are in the middle of a large fundraising event wish them luck.

Write the thank you note in the car right after the meeting and stick it in the mailbox the same day. By doing this you are making sure you cover everything you talked about but also show how important the conversation was for you.

Follow up

At the end of the networking blitz follow up with all your contacts. Thank them again for their time, update them on any new developments and keep in touch with them sporadically throughout the year. Once again, these are not just contacts for the five weeks but contacts for the rest of your career. Just as fundraising professionals need to steward relationships, you need to steward relationships with your contacts.

Drop them a note around Thanksgiving thanking them for their help in your professional career. Email them about a job opening they might be interested in. When you change jobs, let them know.

At the end of the day, remember it is a two-way street. Right now you might need their help in finding a job but you want to be there for them when they need you.

Have you ever participated in your own networking blitz? What were some takeaways which may be beneficial for others? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Building a Philosophy for Dynamic Nonprofit Talent Management

Lead on!

Betty Jeanne here and I’m thrilled to be in dialogue with all of you. As this blog recently announced, I’m one of the LaunchPad fellows working with YNPN National this year. The focus of my work is on talent management: how YNPN (and the larger nonprofit sector) recruits, develops, and retains leaders for our crucial work. Part of my task is evaluating and strengthening the internal systems and structures YNPN uses for talent management. However, I’m especially eager to contribute to a sector-wide conversation about the topic - and to hear from all of you about your own wisdom and experiences.

As I began working with YNPN, I found great alignment between my own vision for the nonprofit sector, and that of our national organization. We were asking similar questions: How do you best support the exceptional leaders - both paid and volunteer - to make our vision a reality? What unique opportunities and challenges does the nonprofit sector face with leadership development? What best practices have YNPN chapters developed around talent management, and how can we amplify those lessons to be shared nationally?

Personally, my approach to talent management reflects my overall orientation to nonprofit leadership. My work centers on relationship; on building and leveraging a diverse network in service of an organization's mission and vision. I support the holistic wellbeing of both paid and unpaid leaders, knowing their experience – from recruitment to retention – plays a crucial role in determining an  organization's success.

I’m aware that the practice of talent management (TM) is rapidly changing due to shifts in the nonprofit sector, economic and political climates, generational turnover in the workforce, and new technological developments. We will need greater innovation and creativity to first identify the human resources (or “people power”) needed to accomplish an organization’s goals, then to find ways to strategically meet those needs.
Some of the lessons I’ve gathered about talent management:

  • Organizations have their own unique SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) for talent management (TM). A strategy for TM must consider these factors in order to enable an organization reach its particular goals.
  • Understanding and addressing generational differences – for example, how to connect more effectively with an increasing workforce of tech-immersed “Millennials” – is essential. Fostering intergenerational community contributes to organizational vitality overall.
  • More than ever, professional and personal lives are managed through social media and mobile platforms: our methods of outreach must respond to this trend.
  • Increasing turnover rates call us to a greater emphasis on retention that responds to leaders’ individual needs. Personally, I am passionate about one-on-one support of leaders, as well as strengthening overall morale and teambuilding.
  • Organizations must combine external recruitment with internal development (building skills and leadership among existing leaders) to ensure the talent they need.
  • Leaders need to feel a positive connection not only to an organization’s brand, but to the underlying values that guide its work.
  • We can learn so much from intentionally observing and evaluating the experience of both current leaders (retention), as well as potential candidates (recruitment).
  • Talent management must be an ongoing, intentional process that engages all stakeholders – staff, volunteers, board members, donors, etc. – in building the strongest organization possible.

Most of all, I’m eager to learn from all of you about your own experiences with talent management, and exchange ideas for how to make this part of our work even stronger.  In the comment box below, I’d love to hear:

  • How are the points above showing up in your organization?  Where are you struggling?  Where are you making inroads?
  • What great resources or insights have you come upon lately in these areas?

Chapter leaders: keep an eye out for an invitation for you to contribute your own lessons, questions, and best practices on talent management in the coming months. We’ll be sharing tools and resources over social media, and exploring the topic more deeply on the YNPN blog.
by Betty-Jeanne Rueters-Ward, LaunchPad Fellow and National Talent Coordinator

Director Dispatch: Virtual Road Trip!

I-96 Grand Rapids to Detroit, May 2012 (photo credit: Trish Tchume)

I remember being an undergrad and asking Dan Doughterty, one of the directors of our campus social justice center, why he always took the bus.  I knew where he lived, I knew he had a car, and I knew that it took him an extra 45 minutes to get to campus every day each way because he chose to ride the bus instead of taking his car.  I think I expected something about environmental impact or gas prices in response.  Instead he said, “Well, when you do the sort of work we’re trying to do here, I just think it’s important to start every morning standing in community.”

Over the years, the people whose practice I’ve most admired have always been people who’ve lived into this philosophy in some form or another.  Whether it was my boss at the Building Movement Project, Frances, who would literally get itchy if she spent more than three straight weeks researching and writing about social movements rather than being “on the ground;” or fierce Sister Gene from my high school who ran around Latin America every summer  to various demonstrations where she thought the presence of an American might lower the chances of (but not necessarily guarantee against) a massacre.

Fortunately, I’ve never had a job that required me to stand so directly in the line of fire, but the importance of actually touching the people and communities that you’re working “for” has been deeply, thankfully ingrained in me over the years.

So in 2012 during my first year as Director of YNPN, I knew that I wanted to spend as much time as I could with our chapters and our chapter leaders - that I would learn the most in that space about what our network was truly contributing to building a more just and equitable world and the direction I needed to set in order to help our chapters do this even more effectively.

While I didn’t have a chance to visit with every one of our 34 chapters (though at some point I do remember believing that this was actually possible.  Yeah, not sure what I was thinking there...) I did have a chance to visit with 12 of our chapters over the course of the year - Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Twin Cities, New York City, DC, Boston, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Southwest Michigan.  On each of these trips, I was consistently reminded of everything that kept Dan and Frances and Sister Gene on the bus and on the ground and in solidarity.

On each of these trips, I was reminded of how vibrant, creative, values-driven, strategic, diverse, and vital to communities our chapters are.  It was during these trips that the first projects of YNPN 3.0 took shape and the YNPN LaunchPad Fellowship became an obvious solution for expanding our capacity.  I would get on the plane humbled and energized and return to my desk clearer, more full of possibilities, and driven to do what needed to be done to support the network.

We have much to be proud as a network from the past year - both in terms of National recognition and in terms of all the amazing programming provided by our chapters.  Knowing, however, how much more network infrastructure we still have to build to become THE platform for developing and moving diverse talent throughout the nonprofit sector, I thought it was critical to start the year by “getting back on the bus” - virtually for now.  For the month of January, our new Field Coordinator/LaunchPad Fellow Ashley and I will be hosting calls and google hangouts with every single established chapter in the YNPN Network, starting with Atlanta and ending in Las Vegas. 

We’ll be posting and tweeting along the way so be sure to like us on Facebook and follow the #ynpnvrt13 on twitter to learn fun facts about the chapters we’re “visiting.”  The goal will be to expand on what we learned from spending time with 12 chapters in 2012 and use it to set a bold strategic vision in 2013.

Mostly, it will be an opportunity to start our year standing in community.

Announcing the 2012-2013 YNPN National LaunchPad Fellows

YNPN National LaunchPad Fellows monthly staff meeting (via Google Hangout)

It started out this summer as something of an internal design challenge: how do we take our current resources (i.e. money, people, staff capacity, good will) and rearrange them in such a way that everyone gets back more than what they put in?

One of the many exciting results of this organizational shift in thinking is the YNPN National LaunchPad Fellows program - a way for aspiring nonprofiteers interested in building skills and experience in a very specific area to lend their time and talents to a fast-growing, dynamic organization.

A little over two months ago we put the call out that we were looking for energetic, talented folks from the YNPN network and beyond, who might be willing to offer us 10 hours a week of their time and talents in exchange for substantive work in an area they hoped to learn more about, focused professional development, and a modest stipend.

We were *completely overwhelmed* by the response - not only by the number of applicants but by the quality, range, and depth of experiences they brought with them.  Folks applied from all over the country and the Fellows we were lucky enough to select are proof positive that the nonprofit sector absolutely does not suffer from a lack of talent.

It's a great privilege for us to introduce Shinei, Ashley, Laci and Betty Jeanne.*  Click here to learn more about the work that they'll be doing for YNPN, what makes them tick, and - most importantly - how to connect with them.

(Special thanks to the Annie E. Casey foundation for their ongoing commitment to building a stronger, more impactful sector.)

*UPDATE: We've added a fifth YNPN LaunchPad Fellow since this post originally went up in November.  You can learn more about Krysten Lynn Ryba-Tures, our Data Coordinator, by clicking on the link above!

Multigenerational Leadership—A Story from the Immigration Reform Movement

(Cross-posted from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services’ Points of View blog)

The second in a 3-part blog series by Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Trish Tchume of YNPN 


Pedro Trujillo is 23 years old and has been organizing around immigration reform for 4 years, currently at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles(CHIRLA). He tells an important story of unintended consequences—of unintentionally pitting generations against one another in the national movement to pass the Dream Act.
"A couple of years into defining and creating the frame of who a "Dreamer" is, immigrant rights activists have concluded that immigrant youth (including myself) have accidentally excluded and vilified all other immigrants who do not fit within this frame of being young, educated, and English-speaking." Pedro laments, "It put us in the position of having blamed our parents, when in fact we are very grateful to them. We don’t want to criminalize our parents, just as we don’t want to be criminalized."

Instead, he says, he would like people who were pushed out of high school and did not obtain their diplomas to take ownership of the fact that they too are Dreamers. "I want immigrant grandparents and families to step out and say, 'We are Dreamers too!'"
With what he calls "the small but important victory of the Obama Administration’sdeferred action policy," multigenerational leadership was essential. "The whole reason we won 'deferred action' is that all parts of the immigration reform movement started saying the same thing, not just the youth."


Jeanne Bell and Trish Tchume   In co-designing our joint conference, Generations of Change: A Multigenerational Leadership Conference, YNPN and CompassPoint were committed to moving the generational differences conversation forward to how the generations can and are working together for progressive social change. One of our panelists was especially provocative on the topic.
The mainstream often expressed acceptance of the Dream Act because eligible young people were "not at fault" and were "brought here against their will." He says this messaging came about in part through immigrant-youth-led discussions on what language would work best and be viable with mainstream America.   Youth activists from CHIRLA’s, Wise UP! program in Los Angeles
"Once young immigrant leaders began to incorporate these talking points into their story of self, many other students adopted it without question. Naturally, politicos jumped on this messaging too, as well as the media and everyone else. I say naturally because it is easier to stand next to and demand for an undocumented student to be considered 'American' if they are on their way to a degree, than to do the same for someone who is a household worker or fast-food restaurant employee and is also undocumented.
And, Pedro reflects upon how his own parents and family have become politicized. "One of the things I have learned at CHIRLA is that young people need the backing of their family to be activists. My mom attends rallies with me now and is learning to speak out in her own way as part of our movement."

We agree with Pedro that activists across the generations have more that unites them than distinguishes them; our work together is the only path to meaningful victories in the work for social equity.
By Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Trish Tchume of YNPN
We thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Walter and Evelyn Haas, Jr. Fund for their investment in our collaborative national convening and this blog series it inspired.

5 Things You Should Know About the American Nonprofits Federal Credit Union

Those of you who were with me at the joint YNPN/CompassPoint Nonprofit Day back in August probably came out of the day feeling energized by all of the discussions about innovations that will help to create a more effective and impactful sector – everything from new models of multigenerational leadership to rethinking the way that we make decisions on the personal and organizational levels.

However, one of the most exciting innovations that struck me was the announcement of the pending launch of the American Nonprofits Federal Credit Union (ANFCU) - a federal credit union specifically for the non-profit sector.  So I made a note to follow up on this initiative and learn more about what it would look like, what it would mean for the sector, and what it might mean for YNPNers in particular.

So I recently had the chance to talk with Pamela Davis, the President of American Nonprofits, and Charlie Wilcox, the organizer of the American Nonprofits Federal Credit Union.  Here’s what they had to say about this new effort:


Dan Blakemore (YNPN National Board): Okay, first things first - how does a credit union work?

Charlie Wilcox: A credit union is a cooperative business equally owned by the members, 1 share per member and each member is able to vote on the organization’s activities.  The members elect a board of directors who have fiduciary responsibility for the organization.  The credit union is able to offer lower cost financial services for the membership.  Any profits are either distributed back to the members as dividends or used to support additional growth.

DB: So what will ANFCU mean specifically for the non-profit sector?

Pamela Davis: The credit union will provide a more efficient banking model for the sector, as it is typically more difficult for non-profit organizations to secure credit due to a lack of understanding of how these groups function.  ANFCU will also seek to raise awareness about our sector and how our financial models function.

DB: I’m sure lots of folks will be excited to hear that.  So what’s the timeline for the credit union’s development?

PD: By the end of 2013, we expect to have ANFCU up and running and serving members.

DB: Great! In the meantime, how can YNPN members and their employers support this effort?

CW: YNPN members can complete this survey that is the next step in the process to make the credit union a reality.
PD: We’re also looking for volunteers who have skills in data analysis and communications.  Additionally, we are in the process of raising $10.5 million in seed funding and are always interested in making connections with prospective funders.

DB: Those sound like really great opportunities for input and engagement.  Anything else YNPN members know about this effort?

CW: We see the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group as a successful model that proves the viability of non-profit groups creating their own financial institutions. Pamela has been a big part of NIA Group’s success over the last 23 years, so it is great to have her taking part in the ANFCU project.

PD: ANFCU will provide the means for the non-profit sector to support itself in a substantive and strategic way by leveraging our cumulative financial resources.
YNPN is proud to support the ongoing effort to create a federal credit union specifically for the non-profit sector, the American Nonprofits Federal Credit Union (ANFCU). For more information on this effort, click here and feel free to leave any comments or questions for Charlie or Pamela in the section below.  They’d love to hear from you! 

Multigenerational Leadership—What Is It?

(Cross-posted from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services' Points of View blog)

The first in a 3-part blog series by Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Trish Tchume of YNPN 

For both of us, inherent in all of this work is an appreciation that while our culture has recently become fluent in distinguishing the generations by name and key characteristics—"Millennials do this" and "Baby Boomers do that"—advancing social equity not only requires all hands on deck, but can be particularly strengthened by multigenerational leadership.
In that spirit, we’d like to offer a definition of multigenerational leadership. Note, we do not mean what each generation should do based on its place and perspective in the pipeline, but what we all should do together:

Multigenerational leadership is an organizational, network, and movement stance in which leaders of all ages prioritize their shared values and leverage the perspectives and capacities of all generations to achieve progressive social change together.
Does this definition resonate for you?

That’s why we were concerned by the results of a survey we took at our August 2012 co-designed conference, Generations of Change: A Multigenerational Leadership Conference. More than 500 YNPN and CompassPoint stakeholders from across the country attended. As we kicked the day off, we asked attendees to participate in flash research—a quick pulse-taking of their knowledge and beliefs about multigenerational leadership. Generations of Change Conference cartoon by Lloyd Dangle
Twenty-six percent of respondents said they felt no explicit effort in their corner of the nonprofit sector to embrace and leverage multigenerational leadership. Another 31% weren’t sure if they did—suggesting uncertainty about what we mean by the term and what conscious leveraging of leadership across generations could look like. While it’s a start that 43% did see evidence of these efforts, given the decade-plus we have all been at work on this, we hoped to be further along.

By Trish Tchume of YNPN and Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint
Resources: We thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Walter and Evelyn Haas, Jr. Fund for their investment in our collaborative national convening and this blog series it inspired.
 Jeanne Bell and Trish Tchume   The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) and CompassPoint share a deep commitment to nurturing a powerful and diverse leadership pipeline for the nonprofit sector. In our own ways, we have helped to shape the dialogue about who "next generation" leaders are; about what it takes to develop and sustain leaders in social equity work especially; and about what healthy leadership transitions entail as veteran leaders move from executive director seats into other sector leadership capacities.

Recruitment Officially Open for the YNPN National Board of Directors

Photo Credit: Shereka Jackson, YNPN PHX

Committed to nonprofits?

Ready for a leadership position?

Want to help lead the growing YNPN movement?

We'd love to work with you!  

YNPN National board members have the unique opportunity to play a critical role in the development and growth of the YNPN network across the U.S., to help shape a growing national organization, and to work to build a stronger nonprofit sector.
Participation on the national board is also an excellent professional development opportunity AND you  get to work with a fun and highly motivated team of passionate individuals (see photo above:)

We encourage all those interested to apply! Candidates reflecting the following attributes especially would help add to our board diversity:

  • young professionals between the ages of 22 and 28
  • men
  • people of color
  • those living in the midwest, pacific northwest or south (including Florida)
  • current or former members of local YNPN chapters
  • those with expertise in one of the following areas: advocacy, strategic planning, financial planning, or technology

Click here to apply or to learn more about serving on the YNPN National Board of Directors.  Applications are due by Friday, October 26th at 8pm ET. In the meantime, feel free to email us at applications@ynpn.org with any questions!

YNPN National Announces the LaunchPad Fellows Program

Photo Credit: Moua Lo, YNPN SFBA


The YNPN network was built 15 years ago on the simple idea that in order to access their full potential in the sector, young leaders need access to four things:

a strong peer and professional network, mentors, training on specific skills, and a place to exercise those skills.

For this reason, we couldn't be more excited to be announcing the YNPN LaunchPad Fellows Program – a way for talented folks who are interested in building their skills and experience in a very specific area to lend their time and creativity to a fast-growing, dynamic organization.

The past year for us especially has reflected our network's continued commitment to building leadership in the sector.  At the National level, we've made tremendous strides in building out our network-wide infrastructure via the YNPN 3.0 initiative.  And at the chapter level, the roll call at our Leaders Conference made it clear that the scope and sophistication of our local programs is growing every day.  These Fellows will play a crucial role in helping to support and advance this work while advancing their own careers in the sector.

Click here to learn more about the program and the specific positions available - and be sure to spread the word to anyone you think would make an incredible LaunchPad Fellow! 

(Deadline extended to Monday, September 24th.)


Reflections from CompassPoint Nonprofit Day 2012-5 Steps to Managing Up

This post comes to us from Kelly Cleaver from YNPN Detroit. Kelly was in attendance at the 2012 YNPN Leaders Conference and CompassPoint Nonprofit day shares her observations with us.
A good (or bad) manager-staff relationship can have a monumental impact on your job no matter where you work or what you do. In a perfect world, we’d all have the very best manager ever… but alas, that is not the reality we live in. Not everyone is going to have the perfect manager, but there are steps you can take to make your relationship with your manager the best it can be. Thanks to Howard Miller from Fulcrum Point, I learned a few great tips from his session at this year’s CompassPoint Nonprofit Day 2012: Generations of Change conference, “Coaching Skills for Managing Up.”
First, figure out what you need from your manager.
Have you ever felt like your manager expected you to be a mind reader? I know I have. Yet for some reason the thought never occurred to me that he/she might also be feeling the same way about me. You can help your manager be a better manager by sharing with him/her what you need. Figure out what it is that you need and communicate this to your manager.
Second, take ownership of your relationship with your manager.
If you need information from your manager, ask for it. If you want to meet with them, ask to meet with them. The more you take an ownership role in your relationship with your manager, the more you will get out of it. If you always wait for him/her to take the first steps, they may never happen.
Third, schedule one-on-one meetings with your manager that have an agenda.
Plan ahead before meeting with your manager in order to get the most out of your meetings. We’ve all sat in meetings that don’t accomplish anything, and everyone hates that! Don’t let meetings with your supervisor fall in the same category. Have an agenda. Know what you want to talk about and make it happen.
Fourth, follow through.
If your supervisor cancels a meeting, ask for him/her to reschedule. If they cancel again, reschedule again. Be persistent. Schedule meetings as many times as it takes until you have your meeting. Continue to ask for what you need until it happens.
Fifth, don’t place blame and don’t need to be right.
Focusing on negative thoughts won’t help you improve your relationship with your supervisor and/or make your job better—even if you are right! The goal is for you to improve the relationship with your manager and get what you need in order to do your job to the best of your ability. Keep that at the forefront of your mind and try not to get discouraged. Keep at it and keep asking!