The report highlights some of the biggest challenges facing the nonprofit sector today and provides insight into how young professionals and the organizations they work for are working to address these issues.
We can’t thank local YNPN chapters enough for all the support they’ve provided in making this report reflect the unique perspectives and innovative ideas of YNPN members across the country. Over the past few months, five of our local chapters have conducted focus groups to bounce the high-level report findings off members who experience these issues every day on the ground. Members from across the country sounded off on the hot button issues of leadership development, diversity, new organizational structures, nonprofit compensation and the changing state of the sector.
These conversations, led by YNPN’s chapter leaders in Denver, Cincinnati, Twin Cities, Washington DC and Houston, bring the report findings to life, and we wanted to give you a preview of what our members are saying.
Why do you think some nonprofits embrace leadership development and others don't? Is it simply an issue of resources or are there other reasons why organizations aren't taking it on?
“Conversations on leadership change are not happening between those in power and those who are not in power. “ - YNPN member in D.C.
“What about the other way around? Do young people have plans to approach supervisors and others and talk about how to develop? I feel like my workplace would be supportive of those conversations. It has to be two ways!” - YNPN member in Twin Cities
When asked to hypothetically play the role of a philanthropist or ED and allocate a part of your budget, offering more competitive compensation was far and away the winner among all other categories. Why is this so important?
“Nonprofit people ARE competitive and results-driven and want their hard work reflected. “ – YNPN member in Cincinnati
“It doesn’t always need to be money. I think that it is sometimes extra vacation or shorter hours as compensation.” - YNPN member in Houston
What do you think are the biggest benefits/biggest drawbacks of changing traditional organizational structures?
“Spreading the director responsibilities makes that position more manageable and allows several peoples' strengths to come together.” – YNPN member in Denver
“I've worked in the linear style organizations and there was a lot of passing the buck- where no one had to have an answer but anyone could have the answer. We were always scrambling to run smoothly.” - YNPN member in Houston
Most survey respondents reported that the organizations they worked for had a diverse staff, but not at the management level. What are your thoughts on diversity in the sector?
“It's treating an adaptive issue as a technical issue. I worked at a place that had a checklist of things like ‘Do we have decorations of different cultures in our office?’. What it should be about is busting through your cultural paradigm.” -YNPN member from Twin Cities
“There are definitely more women in nonprofit sector than in the corporate sector, but there are still more men in leadership roles.” – YNPN member in Denver
Although many respondents were committed to ensuring their careers focused on social impact, only a portion of those were committed to the nonprofit sector. What are the implications for the sector?
“Why actually work at a nonprofit if I can make an impact in these other roles [nonprofit volunteer or board member] and not deal with negatives of nonprofit employment?” – YNPN member in Cincinnati
“We need to anticipate a shift that breaks down the line between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. That means finding ways for the for-profit model to be more responsible, and for nonprofits, looking toward new revenue models.” - YNPN member from Twin Cities
What are your ideas on how young nonprofit professionals can help solve these issues? Do you agree or disagree with the reactions of our members?
Read the YNPN’s 2011 National Voice Report A special thanks to YNPN’s local chapters in Denver, Cincinnati, Twin Cities, Washington DC and Houston for running focus groups and sharing the conversations with the network.
The following guest post comes from two founding members of YNPN Cleveland, Katie Artzner and Kari Mirkin. Both currently serve on the chapter's steering committee and wanted to share some perspective on YNPN Cleveland's recent work.
Is it the dreaded snowbelt season? The fact that we don’t get a shot at the Stanley Cup? Is it some other factor beyond our control? When we asked young nonprofit professionals if they have ever considered leaving their home base of Cleveland, Ohio for the sake of their career, 82% said yes.
Ok, first things first – the Cleveland caricature persists: A rusting, hollowed-out metropolis wearing plaid-on-plaid with white bucks, the Cuyahoga River aflame in the background. In the foreground, residents hold the candles of bitterness over bad sports breakups. It’s an old but resilient story – not the kind of thing you shake overnight.
So, when we at YNPN Cleveland wrote the newly-released report, Building a Career in Nonprofit Cleveland: Focus on the Nonprofit Identity, we knew we’d encounter high numbers associated with geographic dissatisfaction. We also hypothesized, though, that geography alone would be a chimera; that if certain flagging aspects within the sector were recognized and improved upon, the entire outlook of working here could change. That’s because if Cleveland’s got one truly enduring quality, it’s the capacity for change.
Founded in 2009, YNPN Cleveland is an emerging chapter, and we wanted to learn more about the working lives of our chapter members. Our recent report is based on a member survey we initiated and followed by a series of focus group sessions. I surmise that many of report’s major findings will resonate in Detroit, in LA and elsewhere, which is why you find this article on the national blog.
Let’s start with the broad strokes. No surprise, for instance, that we found Cleveland’s emerging nonprofit professionals to be eager for a challenge and well-educated (97% have a 4-year or post-grad degree). Another basic theory proven true: they are, by and large, attracted to the sector by a commitment to a cause or by a desire to “give back” to their community.
Nonprofit – that means you don’t get paid, right?
But what exactly IS the nonprofit job? Although the idea of working “for a cause” is typically ascribed to nonprofit work, the general public does not necessarily see the sector for its many disparate facets – world-class orchestras, billion-dollar private foundations, complex fundraising strategies, sliding-scale healthcare services. On several occasions I’ve been compelled to clarify that our chapter’s mission is not (solely) about promoting voluntarism; that our members generally seek for their nonprofit careers the same opportunities for advancement, training and benefits as their for-profit counterparts. So – is this misperception a marketing failure?
Are we so stratified in our goals that an over-arching “nonprofit identity” is simplistic?
Basically – is it drastic to say that the nonprofit sector has identity issues? Indeed, the low notes of an identity crisis are detectable in our survey; some of our respondents did not self-identify as nonprofit professionals, opting instead to describe themselves principally by subsector – as social workers, educators, etc. How important is it, anyway, that we define and promote a nonprofit identity? A recent article on the ASU Lodestar Center Blog points to the value of “sectorness” in providing a unified voice, for instance in the areas of advocacy and in increasing the professionalism of the field.
The ‘Swiss Army knife’ of careers?
Our survey found that while diversity of responsibility was rated as one of the main draws of the nonprofit career, job titles vary widely from position to position, making advancement across the sector a challenge. One organization’s program associate, for instance, is another organization’s project coordinator.
By focusing on skills rather than job titles when crafting their resumes, emerging professionals might have a better shot at transitioning from subsector to subsector, should the opportunity arise. Cleveland’s nonprofit leaders and university programs, for their part, could engage in an inspired collaboration to define the sector’s workforce skills by developing a taxonomy that could guide existing professionals on their career paths, help HR departments align titles with skillsets, and assist newly graduating students in understanding where their nonprofit career might lead.
And speaking of skills – formal training, mentoring and career goal-setting were the top 3 opportunities that survey respondents wished to see when asked about career development. Correspondingly, a low number reported that their current jobs offer such opportunities. If cash for training staff is not in the cards for some nonprofits, our paper suggests that employers consider flexible work schedules, allowing employees to pursue their own career advancement opportunities without having to take vacation days to do so.
Advanced degrees in nonprofit management are on the rise amid younger workers, and some of our focus group participants noted their ideas are not always taken seriously by their non-degreed co-workers and more-experienced managers. Since most survey respondents reported being employed in a nonprofit organization for under 5 years, we believe that this presents employers with an excellent opportunity to take steps toward instituting formal, in-house mentoring opportunities to bridge the gap between employees who are heavy on education but light on experience.
Further research into Cleveland’s nonprofit sector vs. other regions could clarify and build upon some of the survey findings that make up this report, but we hope our paper will generate some lively dialogue, filled with suggestions and ideas on how to move forward from here. One of the first solid initiatives to arise from this paper will be YNPN Cleveland’s launch of a formal nonprofit mentor program. We will begin accepting applications later this fall, with the goal of connecting interested chapter members to mid-career nonprofit professionals in their desired field or job type.
And while it’s anybody’s guess as to why some of Cleveland’s best and brightest might be considering a move elsewhere, anyone who’s visited Cleveland these days knows that Burning River is just really good beer.
About the authors:
Katie Artzner has a Master’s Degree from Kent State in Library and Information Science, and her background in public service has led her to embrace nonprofit work full time.
Kari Mirkin received her Master in Nonprofit Organizations degree from Case Western Reserve University in 2009. Her role with YNPN involves developing future nonprofit leaders in the region and promoting nonprofit work as a viable career choice.
This guest blog post comes to us from the authors of the newly published Nonprofit 101 book edited by Darian Rodriguez Heyman. This resource comes from one of the book’s contributors Tori O’Neal-McElrath
As much as you might want to believe that grants are awarded simply due to the fit of the program and the excellence of the application, it simply isn’t true. In fact in our experience the odds of getting a grant that you send in without contacting the foundation are about 5-10%. Just as in individual (and all!) fundraising, developing relationships is critical. There are people at these foundations, called program officers, who are directly responsible for deciding who gets money and who doesn’t. They care deeply about the work they are funding, and consider it an advantage to be able to scope out potential grantees. In person meetings with program officers are ideal, but even a short phone call with a grant manager or administrator can still yield the basic information you need, as well as getting your name in the mind of someone at the foundation.
Sometimes these initial conversations can save you valuable time in applying for a grant program that was not a fit—always do your homework on their funding goals ahead of time! But often, they are valuable knowledge gathering sessions: use the call or meeting to identify their key priorities and desired language, which many times cannot be found on their website; figure out which of your programs or initiatives is the best fit, and determine how much money you should request. Finally, go out on a limb and ask if they would be willing to preview your LOI (Letter of Intent) or proposal before your official submission. This will give them a sense of ownership over your request and provide you with valuable feedback. Start today by calling the offices of your top foundation prospect and seeing if you can get on a relevant program officer’s schedule.
- Read more about Nonprofit 101 and check out their resources.
- Each week- the blog features a “tip of the week” - well worth following for quick bites of helpful information and advice.
Ms. O’Neal- McElrath is currently the director of development for the Center for Community Change in Washington, DC. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 21 years in various management and consulting roles for both organizations and foundations focused on women and girls, health and community clinics, and social justice.
This featured blog post originally appeared on YNPN Chicago's Blog and was written by YNPN Chicago board member Aaron House.
Serving on an ALL-VOLUNTEER board means something very different than serving on a traditional board. It means you’re accountable. It means you’re the workhorse. It means the big ideas you share during monthly discussions might just end up right back in your lap.
“That’s a wonderful suggestion… I’ll write that down as an action item for you this month.”
This is really what happens; they show up in the board meeting minutes in red- your name next to them.
The first time it happens you’re often not sure what to make of it.
“Um.. well, I was just saying that was something we should consider.”
“No no. We think it’s just a smashing great idea. Fan-Tas-Tic. We can’t wait to see what you put together to present next month”
“I’m sorry, to present?
And then it happens- you find yourself talking in italics. Not sure how to get out of it.
Wanting to say, “I’m really busy this month, I don’t have time to do all the prerequisite research required to pull this off, to put together a proper presentation, to make this idea into an actual, well actual reality. I was just talking about it in an abstract sense, as something our organization should do eventually, once we have some additional resources and capacity (maybe if you just keep talking and using board code words like “capacity” you’ll get out of it… you’re thinking of working the word “silo” into your next sentence). This isn’t something we want to have a false start with, you know, it’s something we want to do right from the get-go, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m, well, where we’re… taking on… challenge… board responsibility… um… mentality… Silo!”
You think this all through in your two-second pause, including the rebuttal.
“So you want somebody else to run with this one, huh? You think their time isn’t as valuable, do you? You think they should be your little worker bees, huh huh? You want to just come here and talk and talk and not have any responsibilities outside of the board room?”
You keep beating yourself up, including other random things that generally make you feel guilty; like that second hot dog you ate at lunch today (extra ketchup).
You hear the response in your head, it’s a bit silly and dramatic, but you don’t want to let your fellow board members think you aren’t up to the challenge. That maybe you’re just hear to round out an already pretty impressive resume, that you’re trying to skate by without doing any heavily lifting.
SO instead you say...
(read on at YNPN Chicago's Blog)
About the author: Aaron is a long time resident of Chicago, currently working as the Training Manager at the University of Chicago's central office URA (University Research Administration). He believes in the power of words and clear communication.
Maybe you’ve moved from a city with a vibrant YNPN chapter to an area where there is no YNPN presence. Maybe you were bemoaning the lack of networking opportunities for young nonprofit professionals where you live and a Google search lead you to the YNPN website. Whatever the reason, we are delighted that so many talented, energetic young nonprofit professionals around the country have been inspired to establish new YNPN chapters.
YNPN receives several requests a month from individuals wanting to either join a local YNPN chapter or start one. In our conversations with them over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to start a local chapter, and most importantly, what it takes to keep that chapter alive.
We’ve also found that these lessons can be applied broadly to starting any new initiative or movement in your community and we’d like to share some of what we’ve learned. Time, patience, and an unlimited amount of energy and passion are key things you must have in abundance before you begin.
There are many factors to consider when thinking about starting a local YNPN chapter. The biggest of these should be a strong need and desire in the local community for an organization like YNPN. Is there a need for young people in the nonprofit sector to gather to discuss issues that affect their professional lives and the desire to share knowledge, skills, and resources? The path each chapter takes in the YNPN network is different, but all share key benchmarks, struggles, and successes along the way. The overall success of a chapter ultimately lies within the individuals that make up the chapter – their energy, vision, and passion help build the foundation of a strong chapter within YNPN.
Based on our experiences of working with new chapters, here are some key ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ that might prove helpful to those of you considering getting involved in developing a new chapter and for that matter- those of you looking to start up a new initiative, movement or start-up nonprofit!
- When thinking about starting a chapter, do contact YNPN National at email@example.com at an early stage of your planning. Not only can we provide you with a guide to starting a new chapter, IT help and ongoing support, we can also let you know if others have already expressed an interest in starting a chapter in that area.
- Do investigate what resources are currently available in your community. Sometimes this has lead to great partnerships; in other cases it has demonstrated that there really isn’t the need for another organization in that particular area. Individuals have therefore worked to increase the relevance of current offerings, rather than try and develop a ‘rival’ organization.
- Do spend time reaching out to others prior to reaching out to YNPN. Successful chapters are those who have a strong pool of leaders and no one person can do everything for long! Gather similar energetic people around you who share your passion for providing professional development opportunities for young people.
- Do have realistic expectations. You won’t have 100s of members in two weeks or an up-and-running robust website on day one! It takes time to grow a network and consistency and persistence really pay off.
Start small, with simple, easy to replicate events that begin to establish your standing in your community.
- Offer one networking opportunity at least once a month/once every quarter in your first year of operation.
- Be clear on the types of services your chapter will offer. Have a mission, a vision, and a set of action plans ready.
- Do use the power of your network! With over 30 chapters to bounce ideas off, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. YNPN provides regular professional development webinars and conference calls for chapters, and supports the sharing of best practices in the network. These resources can really help a new chapter thrive.
- Don’t think you have to have everything sorted and fully mapped out before starting. Growing a chapter is an organic process and although it is important to have a vision for the chapter, as members join, often new needs are identified. Be flexible.
- Don’t forget to think about succession planning right from the start. Probably one of the biggest challenges our chapters face is turnover of leadership. Unexpected life changes or changes in job role, for example, can mean an individual can no longer commit time to the chapter. Unless there is someone ready to take that place, the chapter can quickly die.
Don’t underestimate the time and commitment required of working boards. Not only do you need to plan for the future and set strategic objectives, etc; if that networking event is going to be a success, it will require your physical presence too!
- Spread the work load across the board to avoid burn-out issues.
- When recruiting new board members, be up front about the amount of time it requires.
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the experience! Developing a chapter can provide you with opportunities you would never get in your day job (for instance, you could learn a new professional skill) and enables you to be part of an ever growing community of emerging leaders. As we’ve learned from working with chapters around the country, starting a nonprofit is difficult but also can be an incredibly rewarding leadership development experience. As a young person, starting your own initiative like a YNPN chapter is a great opportunity to grow and find your place within the nonprofit sector.
Ese Emerhi Chair, Chapters Committee, YNPN National Caroline Bolas, YNPN Consultant
A note about our contributors
Ese Emerhi is a human rights activist and organizer. She is currently a consultant with the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) of The World Bank where she provides support to GDLN affiliates in fostering global knowledge sharing within the network. She is also the legislative coordinator for Maryland for Amnesty International where she educates local activists on pressing human rights abuses around the world, as well as work closely with Maryland state delegates and Congressmen to push forward progressive legislative bills.
Caroline Bolas is a consultant for the national YNPN organization. She is the President/Senior Consultant: Organizational Management at LEVELheaded, Inc. She is an experienced and enthusiastic consultant and trainer with international expertise in program evaluation, organizational development and designing and delivering innovative management development learning interventions.
Networking (verb)- to meet professional contacts to increase your understanding of an area, build contacts in that area, or advance your career.
Informational Interview (noun)- networking in an interview-like style. Informational interviews are advantageous over traditional networking, because you demonstrate interest and they have time to get to know you. It can be particularly helpful if you apply to their organization or they may be aware of organizations or people who are hiring or might align better with your interests.
So how do you do set up an informational interview if you don’t know anyone? Well you can’t really. I’ve tried calling organizations outright. When you’re routed through a secretary they are very hesitant to set up an appointment for you with “anyone.”
You can find peoples’ names on the internet. If you’re crafty, you can figure out what their email address scheme is, like firstname.lastname@example.org, and contact them directly. I’ve met a few CEOs and VPs this way, because they are the people who might actually be listed on the website.
Otherwise, make friends. Join professional networks like YNPN; get involved on a volunteer basis with an organization you’re interested in; see what people you know are doing through LinkedIn; check alumni networks from college; and go out to parties where you can actually hear what other people are saying.
When you do meet someone in your desired area or career ask them what networks they are involved in or email list-serves they subscribe to. To that effect, let me make a few other recommendations about how to initiate, conduct, and conclude an informational interview with a contact you’ve acquired.
Prior to an interview:
- Clearly state your goals (i.e. find out about a field or learn more about how to get into their specific occupation) and what you hope they can do for you.
Read the rest of Lauren's tips at YNPN Chicago's Blog
About the contributor:
Lauren recently completed her masters in Health Management at Columbia University in New York. Her previous experiences include developing marketing strategy for a Health Information Exchange in Michigan and conducting policy analysis for the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.Upon taking her current position as the Development Manager working on the ILO Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety she moved to Chicago and got connected, through an informational interview, to YNPN Chicago in January 2011.
According to a recent New York Times article, Millennials are increasingly seeking employment with the nonprofit sector. Applications for AmeriCorps positions have almost tripled (91,399 in 2008 to 258,829 in 2010), and the number of applicants for Teach for America climbed 32% last year to a record 46,359. This is certainly exciting news for the sector and speaks to the potential of the Young Nonprofit Professional Network – both nationally and here in Detroit – to start a movement advancing social change.
There is a challenge inherent to this groundswell of interest by Millennials, though: Are nonprofits ready for them? I’m sure that every YNPN Detroit member has run across instances where the generation gap has posed a significant challenge. After all, many Boomers view Millennials to be lazy, disrespectful and self-absorbed. Meanwhile, Millennials seem to become easily frustrated with the close-mindedness of the seniors of the field. For example, Millennials often seek to incorporate technology and social media into the daily workings of an organization, though many Boomers find such efforts unnecessary and a waste of time. This can lead to frustration on both sides. If we in the nonprofit sector don’t take steps to mitigate this generational gap, will we risk losing Millennials to other sectors?
Continue reading at YNPN Detroit's blog.
About the author:
Tammie Jones, Co-Chair of YNPN Detroit Tammie Jones is a Council of Michigan Foundations Public Policy Fellow with The Skillman Foundation. There, she works on policy and advocacy issues impacting the Foundation’s Good Schools work, with a particular focus on assisting in the development of the citywide education infrastructure and ensuring access to high-quality schools within the Foundation’s target neighborhoods.
Prior to this position, Tammie worked for more than ten years with the Boys & Girls Clubs in Virginia, helping to establish two new locations serving a combined 400 youth members. In May 2009, Tammie completed her MBA at the University of Michigan – Ross School of Business, where she was selected by her peers to receive the Frank S. Moran Leadership Award. Tammie currently serves as an Advisory Board member for the Salvation Army, Eastern Michigan Division.
Image from todaymade.com.
At our anniversary celebration last week our key note speaker Steve Mariotti Founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and JJ Ramberg our nonprofiteer of the year and Co-Founder of GoodSearch.com spent time sharing their experiences and paths that led them to careers in social change. Even though they work in different causes and have different backgrounds, they both shared one powerful piece of advice to changemakers: learn how to tell a story.
The importance of story telling comes up quite a bit in the nonprofit sector, especially when it comes to more externally facing professions like communications and fundraising. However this is an important skill in all aspects of nonprofit work. As we seek to grow and engage our supporters, employees, and communities we serve, we must learn how to present our experiences and our work in a compelling way that draws our audience in and makes them feel connected and invested in the work we are doing. Story telling is one of the most powerful tools changemakers have, yet it’s a hard skill to master. What does it mean to tell a good story? How do I get others to tell their stories in support of our cause? How do we go from story telling to taking action?
Luckily there are resources to help you get started....
The YNPN journey is now 14 years old, and though we have evolved, we have remained true to that first initial goal - to provide professional development for young people in the nonprofit sector. From a group of young professionals gathering in a San Francisco coffee shop in 1997, YNPN now boasts a staggering 34 chapters across the nation with over 30,000 members. Additionally, we also have 13 start-up chapters working to develop into full-fledged chapters within our network.
Over the past two years, I have had the unique opportunity of working closely with YNPN chapters, monitoring their growth and providing resources and tools to enable their success. I’ve heard their tales of struggles to find board members that can be the champions to continue the work of the chapter once the first crop of founding board members move on; debating the merits of 501c3 vs. fiscal sponsorship; navigating the waters of paid membership; and building programming that addresses the needs and interests of members.
I’d like to share with you a few recent highlights from the network of YNPN chapters around the country:
• In Fall 2010, YNPNdc kicked of Voices of the Sector (VOTS). This was a new program that created a unique space to discuss a variety of subjects from the economic downturn and intergenerational power-sharing to nonprofit accountability, cross-sector collaboration, and nonprofit workforce diversity. To date, they have had several VOTS events with key constituents in the community.
• In January 2011, YNPN Houston partnered with Volunteers of America and Reach to Achieve Mentoring to raise awareness for National Mentoring Month (January). They hosted several podcast interviews with young professionals to discuss the impact mentoring has had on their professional growth; hear one of the podcasts that had YNPN leaders discuss mentoring in their lives
• A signature event for YNPN Triad (North Carolina) is the “State of the Nonprofit Sector in the Triad” event that draws a large crowd of professionals to discuss trends, challenges, and brainstorm solutions to problems occurring in the community. The next such event will be in May 2011; take a look at the last presentation given.
• One of our newest chapters to the network, YNPN Little Rock appears to be off to a great start already. YNPN Little Rock officially kicked-off with their first event last October and already they have an impressive slate of professional development events scheduled for the coming months including speed networking, an advocacy event, and roundtable networking with nonprofit leaders from the community.
• A chapter that is less than 2 years old, YNPN Detroit has already cemented itself as a leader in the Detroit nonprofit community by hosting several professional development events and connecting people to the numerous resources available in the city. Their Twitter feed is a must-read- full of the amazing discussion the chapter drives such as how to engage your board on development and sponsorships to tools on how to negotiate salary and benefits at your job. Their twitter handle is @ynpndetroit.
Coordinating the work of start-up chapters has been another fulfilling area of work I have supported in my time on the YNPN National board. Every month, YNPN receives notices from people across the nation (and across the globe) interested in starting a YNPN chapter in their community. Assessing their readiness to start a chapter, discussing resources individuals might use to spread the word about that start-up chapter, and helping to coordinate the first, second, or perhaps third events for that start-up chapter is a steady, slow process that can take 9 months. The process is intentional to ensure the full success of the start-up once they become full-fledged chapters.
I am constantly amazed at the speed at which YNPN is growing and all of the amazing things our chapters are doing. We may still have a long way to go before all young nonprofit professionals have a YNPN chapter to count on, but the road ahead is full of inspiring work and energetic young people leading the way.
Ese Emerhi Chair, Chapters Committee YNPN National
A note about our contributor
Ese Emerhi is a human rights activist and organizer. She is currently a consultant with the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) of The World Bank where she provides support to GDLN affiliates in fostering global knowledge sharing within the network. She is also the legislative coordinator for Maryland for Amnesty International where she educates local activists on pressing human rights abuses around the world, as well as work closely with Maryland state delegates and Congressmen to push forward progressive legislative bills. Ese currently lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Each year, YNPN asks a local chapter to host the National Leaders Conference, which is an opportunity for chapter leaders around the country to learn from one another. As the YNPN network grows, we have more and more opportunities to showcase local chapters and the innovations happening in the local nonprofit sector in regions around the country.
We've asked this year's host YNPN Grand Rapids to reflect on their experience this year as host to the YNPN network.
In September 2010, ynpnGR found out we would be hosting the YNPN National Conference in Spring 2011. The anticipation to start planning was great and many of us had more fears about the process than we were excited about hosting. Our planning launched in November 2011 when we formed the Super Squad and excitement began to overcome our fears for how the conference would come together. We had many brown bag lunches to discuss the conference, and our Super Squad began digging into details. The dedication of the Super Squad was amazing, and although there were a few “scary” bumps in the road, they all worked together to pull the conference off in the end.
March 25 came very quickly, and before we knew it, we were all sitting around the table Saturday night saying, “Wow the conference is really over!” All of it was worth it. ynpnGR made some new friends with local organizations, and built up a new base of members and dedicated committee members to help support successful programming throughout the year.
Over the course of Friday and Saturday, we were able to see all our efforts come together, with great breakout sessions and headliners, including the amazing Innovation Series. The highlight for many of us on the Super Squad was seeing the nonprofit community and members of YNPN from across the country come together for the Nonprofit Smackdown on Friday night. The energy and excitement in the room truly proved the conference we had created was a success.
Our amazing network of YNPNers across the country supported all that the Super Squad accomplished. The energy and excitement all our chapters bring to the network is phenomenal, and bringing that energy to Grand Rapids was proof that we are not in this alone. The issues and successes our local YNPN members have been experiencing are shared with other members across the country.
Bringing the network together in our hometown has made a significant impact on our board and the programming we are going to be able to provide throughout the coming years. The support of the network has supported new energy and growth in all of our board and committee members. For that, we are truly thankful for all that hosting the YNPN National Conference was able to do for our chapter. Even though the stress and fear about the day was high, it was well worth it in the end!! Thank you for participating in the YNPN National Conference this year, you helped make it a success!!!
If you haven’t seen them yet, we have some pictures from the conference on our Facebook page.
Thank you!! ynpnGR Board
Any "a-ha" moments you haven't yet shared with the network? Having attended the conference- did you learn things about the local nonprofit sector in Grand Rapids that you took home to assist your own local work?
In case you missed any of the coverage of the learning at #ynpn11- here's a recap of the blog posts that were shared with the network:
- From the YNPN Blog:Grabbing a Fistful of Salt: ignore the advice to “learn the ropes”
- From the YNPN Blog:YNPN Twin Cities' Blog: a model for implementing a good idea
- From the YNPN Blog: The Language of Leadership
- From the YNPN Blog: Beyond Enthusiastic
- YNPN GGR: And the Crowd Goes Wild: Recap of the Nonprofit Smackdown
- YNPN Twin Cities: 20+ face and 20 takeaways from #ynpn11
- YNPN Detroit: Six Ways to Rock Your Nonprofit Career
- YNPN NYC: Four Presentation Techniques that Rocked #ynpn11
- Allison Jones: Are Young Nonprofit Professionals Ready to Lead?
- Jessica Journey: How To Be a Great #YNPN11 Presenter
- Jessica Journey: What a 29-Year-Old Executive Director Can Teach You
- Jessica Journey: Knowledge Networks
- Rosetta Thurman: The Inevitable Evolution of the Nonprofit Sector
- Scott Spicer: Keeping the Post Conference Momentum Going
- Nathan Hand: Lead Your Own Development
- Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why it's always smart to act as if you're looking for a job
- Sam Davidson: If you don't give us a seat at the table, we'll build a chair
- Jennifer Trigger Marzullo: Young Detroiters Working to Retain Talent