YNPN Blog: Resources, People, Ideas

State of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network

YNPN National Board Chair is currently giving a "state of the network."

Of note...

In 2010 there are more than 30 chapters (32) across the country and approximately 20,000 members.  Every month, there are about 5 inquiries from young nonprofit professionals who want to start chapters.

The YNPN Best Practices are available on the YNPN website.

YNPN operates on a $40,000 - $45,000 annual budget, and we need to think about how we can build revenue to maintain current operations and ideally to grow.

What are some of the BIG Questions?

  • What impact do we want to have as a network?
  • What are the core operations that are most critical for chapters' and for the network's continued success?
  • What is the capacity needed to conduct those activities?
  • What is the best way to raise revenue to support those activities?

Regarding revenue generation, YNPN National is aggressively pursuing foundations and new funders; exploring sponsorship opportunities; beginning to consider phasing in chapter dues.  And YNPN National is asking for feedback to help identify untapped opportunities and feedback on what chapters consider critical and are willing to help support.

Regarding iModules, the platform was launged in spring/summer of 2008.  There are 19 chapters currently using iModules.  The platform offers significant capacity for automated communication, event registration, dues, and tracking member demographics.  The start-up has been time-consuming and challegning for chapters.  The platform is not intuitive and many chapters and not utilizing iModules' advanced capacities.

  • What do Chapters and National need from a technology prlatform?
  • Is iModules accomplishing this for us?
  • Wound another platform or system meet these goals better?
  • Does YNPN need a centralized technology platform?
  • If YNPN moves away from iModules, what would the short-and long-term repercussions be?

Today's sessions will delve into these issues.  NO DECISIONS will be made this weekend, but important conversations will happen.
"We did not want to pass up the opportunity to get your feedback in person." - Josh Solomon.

And YNPN definitely does not want to pass up the opportunity to get your feedback online either.  If you were unable to attend the conference this year and you have ideas, comments and feedback about any of these topics, please leave your comments here, start conversations with your local chapters and share your opinions with each other and YNPN National.

That Leadership Gap We Talk About

In 2006, a study surveyed numerous nonprofits with revenues greater than $250,000. In that study, the projected growth of the nonprofit sector and the need for new management suggested that the number of new managers needed to meet the need would require attracting 50% of all MBA graduates from every school in the country in the next 10 years. Over the next 10 years, the nonprofit sector will potentially need 640,000 new senior managers. Even if the sector begins consolidating and merging together, the survey still suggested that at least 330,000 new senior managers would still be needed.

Another study done in 2006 on Executive Director positions in nonprofits found that 75% of the Executive Directors surveyed were planning to leave their positions within the next 5 years (although they did plan to stay within the sector.) 70% said that they were planning to leave their organization at some point. Less than 1 in 3 had discussed succession planning with their Board.

There is a discussion that needs to be happening between those that are leading now and those that want to lead in the future. Here at the YNPN Annual Conference, it seemed that almost everyone is aware that these conversations are happening, but they are happening separately. Next generation leadership talks about it and so does the current leadership, but the conversations are not crossing between different generations.

Today, our keynote speaker, Robert Egger, suggested that our society does not recognize the incredible impact of the successes of the nonprofits. When we put people back to work, give young people better education, when we feed and house people, we are not only helping people, but we are helping society. The more people working, the better financial situation a community will be in. When people have food and housing, they can focus on their other needs. I am afraid that some of the nonprofit sector is making this same mistake. We are so focused on our own missions, that we are forgetting the impact that our fellow nonprofit organizations have on us. Nonprofits are afraid to invest in younger staff because the likelihood is that the younger staff person will leave. But better leadership in the nonprofit sector benefits the entire sector, not just a particular organization. Better education will ultimately equal a smaller need in employment, food and housing assistance. People that have jobs will be better equipped to afford taking care of their families. When one nonprofit is successful, we are all impacted in a positive way. Missions are important, but it may not be such a good idea to see ourselves as so separate from one another.

And of course, for young nonprofit professionals, we cannot always sit and wait. We must take control of our careers. If we aren't finding the professional development we need at our jobs, we might need to look for it elsewhere. Develop a personal brand. Join a board. Volunteer your skills and services. Go to conferences and learning seminars on your own time with your own money if you can. It can be done.

Of course, if the leadership gap projects are accurate, we will need both the next generation and the current generation of leadership to work together to ensure a viable and productive nonprofit sector for the future. Our communities will need one, and they deserve to have one.

Robert Egger keynote (video)

A portion of Robert's presentation at the YNPN National Conference today.


Convergence: Nonprofit Professionals in a Cross-Sector World

Caryn Capriccioso (@caryncap)
Slides at www.intersectorl3c.com/ynpn.html

interSector Partners L3C focuses on intersection space. They are the 39th L3C in the country! :) Their social mission is to focus on sustainability of nonprofits, social responsibility of for profits, and government accountability.

Caryn's start was in workforce development. She realized that people were dropping out of job training programs because they could not afford childcare. So she brought a daycare into the YWCA. Many of the women graduating from the program found jobs at the daycare center. Caryn was viewed as revolutionary for bringing the nonprofit and for-profit together. She did not realize she had created a social enterprise or that it was a nationwide movement.

"There are ways to make money and save the planet at the same time."

No one sector can make all the money or solve all the problems or rule forever from on-high.
All hands on deck! Doing well AND doing good.

Now: Venture Philanthropy, Social Enterprise, Philanthropcapitalism (includes business metrics and strategies) , Social Innovation, Social Entrepreneurs, L3C, Corporate Philanthropy and Social Responsibility

Recommended book: Mission Inc, by Kevin Lynch and Julius Walls

Recommended article: Nonprofit Times article on L3Cs

Did you know? Banks are required by law to give money back to the community?

Ashoka and Denver are launching campaign to find innovative solutions to pressing social problems. Paired with an intense marketing campaign to move social innovation forward from all sectors. People are encouraged to visit a website and find one of many many ways to get involved.

Definitions and terminology are extremely varied. Publications and new media are covering the issue everywhere. Business structures are evolving. Education, professional and skill set development is possible. There are more conferences being organized. There are new job titles and career paths.

Where are we headed?

Gen X and Millennials are the deciding generation.
(Since when did I become a Millennial!!! 1977-1998.)

Small Group Discussion Time!

Where are we trying to go?

  • Leveraging strengths across the sectors
  • Diversified portfolio of types of organizations for community benefit
  • Transferable skills
  • Having something meaningful to market besides profits
  • Focusing on shared values instead of differences
  • Benefits to nonprofits to outsource non-mission tasks so that staff can focus on the mission
  • Strategic alliances forming


  • Fear and lack of trust in nonprofit world
  • Cultural differences in different sectors, Need to focus on the systems not the people
  • "Hurry up and wait" mentality
  • Lack of understanding about the other sector's role
  • Who takes the lead?


  • Leveraging ourselves as a political force
  • Seeing the nonprofit sector as more independent from government

What's the role of young professionals?

  • Open minded generations (x and millenials)
  • Make the case to organizations
  • Be the diversified portfolio that we want to see in the world

What do we need?

  • (Snacks. - ys)
  • Having a dialogue, facilitator to help lead the strategic plan
  • Creating a model to gain experience
  • Access to examples
  • Resources (books, articles, conferences)
  • Sense of urgency

Pedagogy of the (Nonprofit) Oppressed

Robert Egger's keynote was chockfull of information, ideas and insights.

I wonder if Robbert Egger has had an opportunity to have a conversation with Dan Pallotta because their opinions about the restraints on, lack of sector advocacy for and flawed foundations within the history of the formation of the nonprofit sector are similar.

That's what I call affirmation of a concept or theory.

In his book, Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential, is on my "Must Read List" for this summer.  I heard Dan speak about his book when it was first published, and I left his lecture thinking: So if the nonprofit industry in the United States is built on a Puritanical approach to charity, which defines good work as a mandatory penance for inevitable human flaws - sin.

Today, Robert Egger talked about the '60s and '70s as the proliferation of the establishment of nonprofit organizations in this country.  That time in the nation's history was a time of great change and awesome opportunities.  Starting with anecdotes about his mother, Egger's late mother became a symbol for hundreds of good-doing white women across the country who started nonprofit organizations founded with the tinge of Carnegie-model philanthropy based in individualistic, capitalistic for-profit business models. 

This created a system of "giving extra" - not giving more, but giving whatever is left over to those who need the most.  That is not charity, nor is transferring leftovers to our constituents the business of the nonprofit industry.

An industry, as Robert Egger reminded us, that is huge - in employees, people served and dollars - in this country.  An industry that he argued is oppressed.  And as he referenced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Egger lifted how oppression is not a one-way, unilateral, flat experience.  It affects both oppressor and the oppressed.

And like Franz Fannon's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the responsibility of the oppressed to stand up and educate the oppressor on the true nature of oppression as a restrictive, destructive force.  So one of the themes of Robert Egger's speech that I walked away with was the need for the nonprofit industry to do advocacy individually (Do I really speak up for myself about my work/life balance?  Do I negotiate for fair compensation?), organizationally (Do our organizations have regular communication with public officials?  Do we partner with both like-minded and other-minded groups when the need arises to pursue a common goal?), and sector-wide (Do we get the media attention we deserve for the impact and good work that we do?  How do we overcome the external perception that dollars spent on marketing, public relations and advertising are wasteful "overhead" costs?)

Additionally, I could not help leave the auditorium thinking about shifting demographics in the country.  The old models (Puritans, Carnegie, well-meaning white women responding to the systems set up by capitalistic white men) are outdated and extremely restrictive.

As a Black female YNPN, I find great strength and inspiration standing on the shoulders of those before me who have been teaching the oppressors they encountered about the grave injustice of marginalization and discrimination.  I do not know how to now blow whistles, not identify injustice and address it.  Black people have fought too hard.  Women have made too many progressive strides.

So now is the time for me to assess that I am a part of a generation who has been told we don't have a movement, but here it is - change (not too reference President Obama...).  We are a generation of service, idealism and hope, and those of us working in the nonprofit industry have to strategize and execute a never-before-seen sector movement calling for respect for our work, space to innovate, and the dismantling of existing institutions that stand as obstacles to the creation of a new nonprofit model that actually strives to solve the problems plaguing this world.

Welcome to Denver from the YNPN National Board


Here's a quick video of the YNPN National Board Members welcoming you all to the YNPN National Leaders Conference.  We're all proud for the work done to bring us all together this weekend and are excited to energize the YNPN movement.  We applaud all YNPN leaders across the country!

Pre-Conference Calm

An unknown source is attributed with having written these words in 1576: "Calm continueth not long without a storm."  And it has been observed that before a severe storm birds stop singing and the air is still.

There must be a storm brewing in Denver!

In the Business Center of the Curtis Hotel, where many 2010 YNPN Conference attendees are staying in downtown Denver, there is an unsettling silence and conspicuous calm - not the type of thing that happens when more than 70 ambitious, talented "do-gooders" convene in one place.  (Of course, I'm pretty sure all 70 or so of us are not staying at the same hotel, and I am definitely the only one in the Business Center right now.)

Perhaps my anticipation, and dare I say anxiety, comes from being a first-timer to this annual Conference.  Well, at least I am not alone.  Like a swarm of bees swooping down on what is still a rather sleepy downtown Denver, 63% of this year's Conference attendees are first-timers, including three members of the National Board.  We come with various expectations, maybe a bit of trepidation, but most certainly with an open mind.  For me, it's a bit exciting to meet new people, connect with like-minded colleagues and draw from the experiences of fellow young nonprofit professionals.

So I'll enjoy the quietness for now.  It won't last long!  Once the sessions start and the brainstorming begins there will be tornadoes of ideas filling our "when we get back" agendas.  There will be more professional and social networking going on than there is on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter combined.  (OK, maybe not, but you get my drift.)

I guess the rain here in Denver is a fitting natural occurrence then.

Nonprofits Need to Encourage Professional Development in their Under 40 Staff

I first became involved with YNPN this past summer. I was looking for ways to develop and grow professionally as a young aspiring nonprofit professional. Despite the fact that I double majored in college and graduated Magna Cum Laude, I had no idea how to move forward in my newly established career in the nonprofit sector – a career path I chose my senior year of college. (Why is it that so many college students seem prone to choose a career path for themselves only at the end of their 4 years of undergrad? Wouldn't it be so much more helpful if we made these decisions sooner?) Of course, upon finding about YNPN, I learned that there was not a local chapter in my area. With a small team of some great people, we are currently in the process of establishing one. This process will not only benefit myself, but should ultimately benefit the entire nonprofit sector of Detroit in years to come.

What I wonder, though, is this: Are the nonprofits that we work for supporting the efforts of their younger staff to improve themselves professionally? Are they supporting the idea that in order for them to succeed in their missions, they are going to need reliable leadership to replace them? This year's conference will focus on professional development in the nonprofit sector one day and on YNPN chapter development the next. Attendees will have the opportunity to take what they learn from this conference and not only improve their local YNPN chapters, but also return as better professionals in the workplace. I know that many of my colleagues are able to use their efforts with YNPN as professional development with their employers, such as this year’s YNPN Annual Conference. Some have more fully established chapters that are able to help fund members to attend. Others are to taking vacation days and/or spending a decent chunk of their own money to participate. For many young nonprofit professionals, spending several hundred dollars on a hotel and airfare in addition to having to take time off work would be more than enough to deter them from attending.

Support from nonprofit employers is crucial to creating strong next generation leadership. Verbal support is not always going to be enough when time and money are involved. Of course, the truth is, many nonprofits are struggling, making now a difficult time to make such requests. This makes it all the more important for the nonprofits that can support their younger staff in growth and development to do so. YNPN helps to ensure that there is a pool of experienced, bright and reliable nonprofit professionals in an area.

A successful YNPN chapter in any given area helps to increase nonprofit collaboration, creates better communication between nonprofits, and also creates avenues for nonprofits to find employees that have hearts for social change. I firmly believe that an organized group of young, social change oriented professionals in the Detroit area learning and growing together has the potential to do many great things for the region. Missions, strategic plans, and strong fund-raising strategies will only get an organization so far until it is time for new leadership. (And of course the leadership exchange is inevitable.) The more equipped that new leadership is the better future nonprofits will have.

Keynote: Robert Egger

It's a snowy day in Denver! YNPN leaders from around the country are gathered to share best practices.
YNPN Denver leader Sarah Fisher mentions that the Denver chapter is interested in moving towards incorporating more advocacy into their efforts.

Robert Egger (@robertegger on twitter) is the founder and President of DC Central Kitchen and leader of the V3 campaign.
Robert feels like he's the "YNPN stalker." Since day 1 he has been a passionate believe in YNPN. He believes in our generation, and that his generation is not moving into action as it should.

"If the times aren't ripe, ripen the times." - Dorothy Height

Too often we listen to policies or ideas that are outdated and irrelevant.

Robert is devoted to the evolution of the nonprofit sector, he believes that the nonprofit sector is an integral part of the American life.
As a sector we are very good at moving people out of danger or poverty into a place of safety or progress. But we haven't taken the larger sectors of society to make a fundamental shift.

When Robert first encountered YNPN, "the young part was right on, the professional part was in question."

Robert praises the members in the audience that have become nonprofit leaders, like Rosetta Thurman.

"To what end? What are you doing to do?"

"It's time to get serious and professional."

"Below you there is 80 million young people, 50 million in school, and more than half are not white.  They will be looking to you to lead them out of this and into something new and powerful."

"How are you supporting one another as you come up? You have to use this network and support one another."

"A lot of what we do in the nonprofit sector is a way to replace what was once part of the agricultural society."

An entire generation of powerful, college-educated white women were driven into a silo of "acceptable" work in charity.

In the 1970s, young people were politically active, especially young women. They had ideas to start nonprofits. But they ran into a foundation world run by white men with money from other white men. The foundations only provided small grants with short renewal cycles, so as to monitor and preserve the status quo.

MLK was heading to DC to lead a campaign for economic justice when he was assassinated in Tennessee.

Because women who started nonprofits also tended to have wealthy husbands, the nonprofits were setup to underpay and underbenefit their employees.

Why aren't political candidates paying more attention to the nonprofit sector? How do we elevate this opportunity? How do we help legislators to see what we could be?

To recognize the dream of a new nonprofit sector, we must elect people who recognize the new nonprofit sector.

90% of college freshman have done community service. We have an entire generation who is civically involved. But as a country we haven't thought about what we do with this generation coming up.

  • Robert admit he wanted to be a hippie as a 10-year-old in 1968. :)
  • Robert thinks our generation's moment is going to be social activism and social enterprise.
  • Nonprofit leaders need to emphasize their love for the mission as well as their need for a fair living wage.
  • Robert suggests a restructured and renewable tax deduction system to encourage people to invest in nonprofits and good causes.
  • Robert hopes our generation and the one behind us can make this leap where the lines between business and nonprofit are blurred.
  • Robert predicts bigger state and local budget deficits on July 1st. Too many legislators look at the nonprofit sector as the biggest pot of untaxed revenue. He predicts flawed legislation taxing properties of nonprofits.

The mayor in Denver is one of the only that has an Office of Strategic Partnerships, which includes relationships with nonprofits. And now he's running for governor. Robert sees great potential in having a candidate that drafts policies that recognize and encourage the potential of nonprofit organizations as part of an overall economic strategy.

35 senate races, 36 governors races, and 486 congressional races.... Robert points out this is a great year to get the nonprofit sector engaged.

SCOTUS decision gave corporations a first amendment right... but in the fine print, nonprofits were disenfranchised.
"We want to be free from the bondage of the grant cycle."

Robert asks that we not be complacent. That we be the kinds of leaders that sees the future and marches out to meet it.
The work at DC Central Kitchen is also about raising the dialogue. How do we feed our elders AND value them?

  • "No more throwaway people. No more throwaway business." (Robert's energy today is INCREDIBLE!)
  • "I don't understand why we have yet to rise up."
  • Robert believes the green movement is the tip of a worldwide yearn for a new system, a new perspective.
  • "We don't make as much as our for profit colleagues, but we sure are happier."

The real potential of social enterprise is as a real alternative to charity. We need to reward businesses that have great policies.
Our generation is the first with the real power to transform the country and the world.

In the UK, there is a Minister of the Third Sector. Looking for a Minister of Social Enterprise.

Q: Can we come together as funders and fundees? Can we come together as fundees across diverse groups? A: Charity in America is still based on culture of "life insurance for the next life." There is an unequal power dynamic that we need to be rid of. If you and I had competing dry cleaners, every night we would shoot eye daggers at each other and I would wish ill on your business. But if someone tried to regulate small business, you and I might put aside our grievances and joined forces. We need to explore that in the nonprofit sector.

  • "There's no leadership vacuum. Are you kidding!?"
  • "The era of Extra is over. So what becomes of us now?"
  • The new generation wants to volunteer: "Use me!"
  • "Don't wait for permission. Be ready. Slings and arrows will come when you try to make change. It will hurt. They will call you names."