YNPN Twin Cities board members Adaobi Okolue and Chris Oien shared best practices learned from their chapter's blog. I jokingly tweeted that I should write a blog post about their blog. Adaobi and Chris's presentation was informative to anyone interested in starting a group blog, but it was also a great story about taking a good idea and rallying a group of people to implement it.
How to build buy in
YNPN Twin Cities spent a lot of time and effort generating support from the board before launching their blog. They addressed capacity and technology concerns with:
- One-on-one conversations
- In-person trainings about the blogging platform
- A schedule of blog writing responsibility that is manageable. (Board members are expected to write a post once every few months, and they know well in advance when their post is expected.)
Lesson Learned: Invest time at the beginning of a project to address concerns and build personal connections with your stakeholders.
From the beginning, YNPN Twin Cities was clear about what the blog is and what the blog is not. The YNPN Twin Cities blog is not:
- A fundraising effort
- An event promotion mechanism
Lesson Learned: For an idea to succeed, it needs a clear goal. And a clear goal cancels out other potential goals, even when they're worthy.
Making it work
YNPN Twin Cities has an arsenal of tools that help its blog run smoothly and successfully:
- The blog's posts are assigned months in advance. Authors know exactly when they're expected to contribute.
- Each week, posts are submitted, edited and published on a set schedule.
- Topics for blog posts are assigned. (There are "open topic" weeks as well.)
- The "blog bible" provides extensive documentation.
Lesson Learned: Create and document a manageable structure that helps a good idea become a great idea.
Launching the next good idea
Not satisfied with having an awesome blog and presenting about it at the YNPN national conference, YNPN Twin Cities is including new voices in their blog beyond YNPN-TC board members.
Lesson Learned: Embrace the next phase of your great idea!
Denise Stein, Executive Director at Art of Leadership in Detroit spoke yesterday about the power of language. Many of us working in the nonprofit sector have found ourselves, on more than one occasion, facing barriers and conflicts that make it difficult for us to reach the goals we have set for ourselves and/or our organizations. As a result, sometimes, we may hear ourselves complaining to friends or co-workers. In my mind, the truth is- not all of those complaints are unjustified. In fact, I would argue that many of them probably are justified. Sometimes you have every right to be frustrated and often getting those frustrations out can be a very healthy and positive way to help yourself move forward. The problem, however, is that when repeated, those complaints can actually be much more powerful than we may realize.
Sometimes when talking about our causes, our words focus on the barriers and conflicts, a.k.a, the problems that need to be addressed. If we find ourselves spending more time talking about the problem as opposed to the solution, we can really hold ourselves back from moving forward. If the status quo needs to be changed, we should focus our language around our plans and goals for the future instead of the problem(s).
Denise said, “The language of complaint tells us, and others, what we cannot stand. The language of leadership/commitment tells us, and others what we stand for.” We can help reframe our own mindsets by focusing our language around what we want to see, instead of focusing on what we see but don’t like. By focusing on our goals and commitments, we empower ourselves to act on those commitments, instead of getting lost in frustration.
We have all heard the phrase ‘think outside of the box.’ In fact, it has probably become a little cliché at this point. No one really wants to think like everyone else. We all want to think of ourselves as ‘out of the box’ thinkers, at least, I do. An important thing to remember is that ‘thinking outside of the box’ doesn’t always refer to a collective cultural box that we all subscribe to. ‘Thinking outside of the box’ doesn’t always mean thinking differently from this group or that person. Often, it is our own boxes that we need to think outside of. More often than not, it is our own constraints and perceived limitations that we need to branch away from.
By reshaping the way that we talk and learning to constantly challenge our own ‘inside of the box’ thinking, we can position ourselves to make a much bigger impact in our communities. Never underestimate the power that the words we use can have on our own perceptions. And learn to take mental notes of our own repetitious behaviors. If we learn what ‘in the box thinking’ really looks like for ourselves, we might actually have a much better shot at learning how to think outside of it. And if we constantly remind ourselves of what we're working for, we will find ourselves empowered by motivation, instead of feeling burnt out and/or overwhelmed.
YNPN leaders from around the country are gathering today here in Grand Rapids, Michigan to share ideas, connect with other chapters, and engage one another in dialogue about the future of our sector.
The conference theme selected this year 'Evolve' will highlight individual, organizational, and sector-wide evolution and innovation. Workshops will include flash presentations with speakers discussing how they've created change within and through their organizations, as well as sessions focusing on sharing best practices among chapters across the country. During one of this morning's sessions we heard from nonprofit blogger and author Rosetta Thurman. She provided her perspective and ideas about how young professionals can be more strategic with our professional development and personal branding within the sector- rock on Rosetta and thanks for joining us!
As a local chapter leader, and now national board member, this will be my fifth YNPN National Leaders Conference. Without fail, I always leave feeling inspired by potential and power of this movement. Every year, I gain ideas for how to strengthen and focus my career path. Discussions with other YNPN chapter leaders here have opened up opportunities for peer mentoring that I have come to rely on as a young professional.
Last night, at our welcome happy hour, a local board member shared with me- “coming here I find all these people that I share values with- these are my people.” Sometimes that’s hard to find in critical mass- peers that share our passion, energy and excitement. As I have continued on my career path in the nonprofit sector, YNPN has really provided me with that - a connection to people I can count on, people I learn from, people I feel inspired by, and people that share my values.
This is a national movement of young leaders and this conference is the place that chapters gather to push the momentum forward. From a national YNPN board member to all of you- WELCOME to Grand Rapids!
If you aren’t here in person- be sure to follow the dialogue, ideas and resources here on the blog- we’ll be joined by several conference guest bloggers that will share their perspective with all of you - Kelly Cleaver, Jessica Journey, Yesenia Sotelo, Lydia McCoy, Samuel Richard.
You can also follow the conversation at http://bit.ly/Twitterynpn11
Make Your Voice Heard. Improve Our Sector. Take YNPN’s National Voice Survey Today!
Over the past several years, a great deal of literature has been released noting significant leadership challenges for the nonprofit sector. With each issue revealed has come a compelling set of recommendations for how the sector can meet these challenges head on. As a movement of now over 20,000 nonprofit professionals nationwide, YNPN is uniquely positioned to put these recommendations to the test.
Is offering more competitive compensation a priority for retaining talent? Is your nonprofit engaging in succession planning? Is prioritizing diversity having a positive impact on your organization? The valuable feedback and experiences you and your peers will share by completing YNPN’s survey can help influence how our sector addresses its leadership challenges over the next decade.
Make sure our voice includes your perspective. Click here to start the survey now!
Also Help us Spread the Word...
YNPN chapters and partners around the country will be promoting the survey in their communities- chapters can find resources on how to spread the word here: http://ynpn.org/our-voice/take-action/
We look forward to sharing our results with you later this year!
Dan Dobin, YNPN National Voice Committee
There are many resources available for young nonprofit professionals interested in learning more about the nonprofit sector. Many of these resources are provided by national organizations that work to improve the nonprofit sector through disseminating information about specific areas of the sector, whether that be finance, fundraising, governance, etc. Please review the Sector Resources page for a listing of popular organizations that provide valuable information for many different types of nonprofit organizations.
Sharing and learning from best practices can help the YNPN network grow and thrive.
The following sample documents have been provided courtesy of YNPN chapters, to search by category, see the sidebar. These documents are meant to serve as a reference and provide chapters with samples and ideas. Please note that each YNPN chapter is different and therefore many of these documents will also vary accordingly.
If you are interested in contributing a best practice of your own, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 19, 2010
5:30pm - 7:00pm @ House Wine
In this Update:
- Connect with YNPN-Austin!
- 10 Things Your Last Minute Online Donors Want - News
- Texas nonprofits an economic force, study says - News
- Blue Genie Art Bazaar - Event
- DiscoverHope Fund Board of Directors: Foundations Chair - Volunteer Opportunity
- Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, Training Specialist - Job Opportunity
- Foundation Communities, Bilingual Adult Education Coordinator - Job Opportunity
In this Update:
- YNPN-Austin Do-Gooder Wednesday - YNPN Event
- GivingCity Austin Givers Ball - Event
- Leadership Austin Engage: Non-Profit & For-Profit Collaborations - Event
- They Speak: Citywide Youth Poetry Slam #4! - Event
- Philanthropy's 10 Favorite Buzzwords of the Decade Show How Nonprofits Are Changing - News
- Communities in Schools, Mentor - Volunteer Opportunity
- Connect with YNPN-Austin!