Launchpad Fellow Spotlight: Colin Cumming

Launchpad Fellow Spotlight: Colin Cumming

YNPN believes in developing the nonprofit talent necessary to build a just and equitable world. So, we’ve developed the YNPN Launchpad Fellows program as a way for talented folks who are interested in building their skills and experience in a very specific area to lend their time and talents to a fast-growing, dynamic organization. Our 2016-2017 Fellows started back in October. Over the next few months, we will be catching up with them to hear about what they've been up to and what they've learned.

Up first: Colin Cumming, our Communications Coordinator!

Q: Who are you and what do you do full-time?

A: My name is Colin Cumming and the I’m Annual Funds Manager at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. It’s a large botanical garden and art museum here in Grand Rapids and I’ve been there for just over a year. Recently, much of my time has been spent writing grants and meeting with donors to secure commitments for our current capital campaign. It’s been very exciting.

Q: How did you first hear about YNPN? What attracted you to the fellowship?


A: When I first started graduate school at Grand Valley State University (Go Lakers!) back in 2014, one of my professors, the one, and only Dr. Heather Carpenter, highlighted YNPN as a place to meet other young nonprofit professionals to network, make friends, and learn about what’s happening around the city. She founded the San Diego chapter and encouraged everyone in the class to get involved as much as possible. As a great listener and a nonprofit newbie, I immediately joined the Grand Rapids Chapter (YNPNGR). I quickly fell in love with the people, the programs, the everything! I even joined the Marketing Committee. Being new to the city and to the nonprofit sector at the time, I don’t think that I would have made it through graduate school or my first few career steps without the support of YNPN.

So, when I graduated two years later in 2016, I was ready to give back and get more involved. At first, I thought about joining the local board, but when I saw the Launchpad Fellowship mentioned in a newsletter, I couldn’t say no to the opportunity. Social media and digital communication for a national network that had done so much for me? It sounded too perfect! I was in shock when I was called to schedule an interview and was even more shocked when I was offered the fellowship (thanks, Jamie and Amber!). The rest is history.

Q: What are you responsible for at YNPN? What have you been working on?

A:, I’m totally kidding. For the past six months, I have on managed our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram (you should totally follow us!), updated the website and sent out our monthly newsletter. Lately, a lot of my work has revolved around promoting the conference and planning for all of the exciting activities. I’ve even helped with some fundraising. We also have some big projects on the horizon. For instance, under the leadership of the National Voice committee, we are developing a new newsletter based on some analytics that I’ve been collecting. Data is the best!

Q: What are you looking forward to in the last few months of the fellowship?

15111095_10207772891501394_4706962065437258831_o.jpgA: The fellowship has flown by. I’m really looking forward to meeting some of the people that I’ve been in touch with online at the 2017 National Conference and Leadership Institute (#ynpn17). I’ve become fast friends with the staff and board (these people are amazing!) who I can’t wait to see in-person again in August. Part of the fellowship includes a stipend for professional development, which I will be using to attend the 2017 Nonprofit Storytelling Conference in November, so I’m looking forward to that as well. I think that it will be a nice time to reflect on the fellowship experience where I’ve shared a lot of stories.

Q: Tell me about more about #YNPN17, what excites you about the conference?

A: So much. No, really! We’ve already secured some extraordinary speakers and are hoping to have the largest conference attendance in our history. For the first time, all members have been invited to attend, which is a total game-changer. I think that this change is a positive one and will take the conversations to an even deeper and broader level. The #Hotlanta heat might be a bit unbearable for someone as sweaty as me, but reporting out the conference to our followers and network using Facebook Live and live tweets is something I've never done, so it’s one more thing that keeps me motivated and excited.

Q: Let’s hear more about you. What do you do outside of the office? How do you relax/have fun?

A: I’m not the world’s most interesting person...sorry. I like to read (right now I’m re-reading The Bell Jar), watch TED Talks (Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” is a weekly watch), explore Grand Rapids’ delicious, but expensive beer/coffee scene (Founders! Madcap!), and I’ve recently tried to be more healthy with some hiking around the lakeshore.

Q: Any last words? What does the future look like for you as a result of this fellowship?

A: The future is unknown, but that’s okay. I have learned SO much from this fellowship thanks to the leadership of the Board, Jamie, Trystan, and Amber. I could go into more detail about how much more I now know about social media and strategic planning, but this blog is approaching the 1,000-word limit that I set for myself...I can be a little chatty and fluffy. Following the end of the fellowship, I hope to stay involved with YNPN at the national and local level as much as possible. My advice to anyone considering a launchpad it! You will never meet a more amazing group of people committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion. You will be inspired to do your best work and empowered to lead in ways you never expected.

See you at #ynpn17!



Colin is the Annual Funds Manager at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. There, he manages the organization's growing donor relations systems to promote the enjoyment, understanding, and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environment, and the arts. He is passionate about meaningful connections between nonprofits of all sizes and their supporters and community involvement and investment. At YNPN, Colin proudly represents the network on social media and manages the website and the monthly newsletter. For a few more months, you can reach Colin at and for tweets about all things nonprofit and social justice (and maybe a few selfies), you can follow him at @ColinCumming.

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