Last weekend, the new Launchpad fellows had the opportunity to travel to Baltimore for a 24-hour retreat. We met the board (amazing), met each other (amazing), and somehow managed to accomplish training and team-building within a 24 hour span (amazing). What surprised me the most when we left was just how much we had been able to accomplish within that short span of time.
I imagine this isn't different than the position many young nonprofit professionals find themselves in. While juggling work, life, family and volunteer commitments, there might not be time for more than a 24-hour board retreat in our schedules. Given our busy schedules, how can we make our board retreats as effective as possible in a short time frame? Below, I give my five tips for making the most of your 24-hours-and-under retreat.
- Plan ahead. Have a schedule, and stick to it. Make sure facilitators have fine-tuned their sections and are ready to lead discussion. Emailing the schedule ahead of time will allow everyone time to prepare and lead to deeper discussion during the retreat. For example, if individuals know to think about strengths and weaknesses ahead of time, you can jump right into a deep, thoughtful SWOT analysis.
- Remove distractions. Provide paper, pens and any other materials attendees might need. Take the distraction and chaos out of the situation by being proactive in gathering necessary materials ahead of time. And snacks, always snacks. In a one-day retreat, you need the full attention of individuals, so even something as simple as removing the distraction of hunger with some snack options will increase the team’s discussions.
- Less review, more discussion. In a one-day retreat, focus on activities that are high in discussion. Items that are high in learning and review -- such as reading up on policies, organization structure and background, etc -- can be saved for later. These things can be emailed out later, and read individually. Other activities -- brainstorming, strategic planning, goal setting, team building, etc -- cannot be done individually. Put those activities at the forefront of your group’s time together, and trust individuals to completely other tasks individually.
- Make it personal. One of the most important parts of the retreat is that individuals walk away with a better understanding of how their role fits into the overall team. At the end of each activity, ask individuals to reflect and share how what you covered impacts their individual role within the team.
- Have fun. Don’t be afraid to get a little silly -- do a fun icebreaker, shake things up with an old-school camp song, or share a favorite YouTube video during a break. Individuals are more likely to continue giving their best effort to a team long after your 24 hours are up if they feel they made a personal connection with the other team members. (Bonus Tip) Food, all the food. Across all cultures, food is a way to build community. Use mealtimes to your advantage as a way to foster natural teambuilding, and save the retreat time for higher-level activities like planning and strategizing. When you have food (all the food), you win (all the wins).
We know many of our local chapters are kicking off with new boards, and hope you find these tips helpful for making your short time together as efficient and effective as possible! What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for effective meetings? What retreat or team building activities stand out to you as most memorable?
If you're applying (or even thinking about applying) for a Launchpad Fellowship or a seat on the National Board, we encourage you to join us for one of our evening Twitter chats in August & September.
This is a great chance to get your questions answered, learn more about the positions, and introduce yourself to members of the selection committees.
Our National Board chats are happening at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on Wednesday, August 20 and Thursday, September 4. Follow along using hashtag #ynpnboard. (And learn more about the National Board and the application process here.)
Many of our former Launchpad Fellows will be logging on to talk about their experience and answer your questions on Thursday, August 21 at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Join us with hashtag #launchpad. (You can find all the info on the Launchpad Fellowships and the application process here.)
If you can't join us on these evenings, you can also always tweet us at @ynpn with questions. We look forward to chatting with you!
You may remember how thrilled we were a few months ago when Nonprofit Quarterly approached us about kicking off a collaboration.
This week our Communications Manager Jamie Smith is over on the Nonprofit Quarterly site providing an overview of the results of the survey we developed to give you a chance to tell one of the sector's leading publications what you think. The results were very interesting:
One of the NPQ survey respondents, for example, expressed a fear that we hear time and again from established leaders about what will happen to the sector over the next five years: “I am concerned with the draining of executive talent by retirements and burnout with fewer than the number needed stepping up to replace them.”
As part of a network of more than 50,000 young nonprofit professionals who are eager to lead, our members voice that the issue is not that we don’t have leaders who are willing to step up. Rather, we are not providing them with the support they need to not only step into leadership positions, but to also be effective once they’re there.
We're looking for young professionals who are passionate about building a diverse and powerful social sector to serve as full-time staff, National Board members, and Launchpad Fellows.
Check out these opportunities, apply, and share!
Data Systems Manager
We're looking for our third full-time employee. Do you love data and have a passion for the nonprofit sector? Then check out our Data Systems Manager position. Applications are due Monday, August 18.
YNPN National Board
The YNPN National Board is a great opportunity to help shape the future of YNPN (and the sector!) while gaining experience in board service and working with a fantastic group of young leaders (pictured above). Apply for the YNPN National Board. Applications are due on Monday, September 15.
Our Launchpad Fellowships are a great way for young professionals to gain (paid!) experience and valuable skills while helping increase the capacity of YNPN. This year we're seeking fellows in the areas of Fundraising, Conference Planning, Program Innovation, Chapter Support, and Communications. Learn more and apply for a Launchpad Fellowship. Applications are due Monday, August 25.
"What binds us in the social sector is that, regardless of our organizational mission, we want to be impactful and relevant. Most of us realize that while each of us has our own ideas and strengths, figuring out what it takes to achieve greatest impact and relevance involves climbing over our organizational walls. It’s why we join associations and grab coffee to pick a colleague’s brain. It’s why 74 percent of respondents in YNPN’s 2013 member survey cited “access to a network” as the benefit they value most about their membership.
"However, even professionals who understand the importance of networking as a tool for increasing effectiveness seem to miss the fact that they must take networking a step further to offer true leadership around their mission."Head over to the SSIR site to read the rest of Trish's piece and learn why strategic networking is critical to effective leadership. And while you're there, check out the rest of their Talent Matters series on nonprofit talent development.
You may have seen our National Director Trish Tchume's recent piece for the Stanford Social Innovation Review on the value of strategic networking. If you haven't, you should check it out.
To help our members find opportunities to more strategically network, we'll occasionally be featuring organizations that we think are doing interesting work that would be of interest to YNPN members. First up is NetSquared!
NetSquared provides a space for anyone interested in technology and social change to connect online, share ideas, and even collaborate in person. We talked to Elijah van der Giessen, NetSquared's Community Manager, about why NetSquared is a network to know.
You were founded in 2006. Tell us a little more about the mission of your organization.
Our tagline is "Mobilising Communities and Technology for Social Change.” Our goal is to create a sustainable, scalable community of practice for nonprofit technologists (current and aspiring!) where people can come together to share best practices, case studies, and support each others' projects.
What brings NetSquared members to your network?
It's a few things:
1. Nonprofits are technology laggards, but they don’t have to be! We hold free training events every month in 50 cities across the globe!
2. If you want to connect with technically literate nonprofit staffers, your local NetSquared members are often looking for collaborators.
3. Being the geek at a nonprofit can be lonely work because nobody understands what you do. We’ll connect you into a community of peers to laugh, weep and learn.
What does a typical NetSquared event look like?
A typical NetSquared event is a presentation focusing on a local nonprofit technology case study that features practical tips that can be immediately implemented by the attendees. Popular topics include measurement and analytics, digital storytelling, and social media surgeries.
How can YNPN members and chapters connect with NetSquared?
1. We have a community of nonprofit technologists. You have a community of young nonprofit professionals. You KNOW there’s overlap. So let’s co-produce an event!
2. Your local NetSquared group may be a promotional partner to help connect you with potential members.
To learn more about NetSquared you can reach out to Elijah at email@example.com or visit their website at netsquared.org. You can also find them on Twitter at @NetSquared.
You may have noticed that the past few years have been a pretty exciting whirlwind for YNPN. Since launching the national movement 10 years ago, we’ve grown to become a vibrant, grassroots network with more than 50,000 members that’s gotten really good at activating emerging leaders to build a diverse and powerful social sector.
Now we're seeking an entrepreneurial, resourceful, and passionate Data Systems Manager to help take our work to the next level!
Here’s what we’re hoping to accomplish over the next 5 years related to this position:
- Become the representative voice of young nonprofit professionals (YNPs) across the country
- Develop a data platform that provides robust space for member-to-member connections, chapter-to-chapter connections, and network-to-sector connections.
- Create a data-positive culture--which means respect, skill, and enthusiasm for data-backed decision making--amongst our chapter leaders and members that will improve the way our whole sector thinks about and uses data.
And we see implementing a smart, dynamic, and accessible data system coupled with cool, engaging chapter leader training on the systems as the best way to achieve these goals.
So did you get chills reading this preview? Perfect. We’d love to hear from you.
Click here to learn more if you’re up for the adventure (and a good time along the way!)
* Star Trek fandom not required.
You may have heard that applications for the YNPN National Board will open on August 1.
If you're a nonprofit rockstar who is passionate about YNPN and our work, we hope that you'll think about applying and we encourage you to learn more about the application process before it opens on August 1.
In the meantime, hear what current board members have to say about their awesome experiences on the YNPN National Board.
If you ever want to feel empowered to make things happen, join the YNPN National Board. This group is the most motivated, career-driven, intelligent young nonprofit leaders I have ever met. When I first heard about the opportunity to join I immediately jumped on it, not knowing if I had what it took to join the ranks.
The minute I stepped into my first board meeting I was petrified… but the Board was so welcoming & supportive that I fit right in. This group of individuals has challenged me to think strategically and tactically, at the same time. We are moving projects forward at this instant and also thinking how YNPN will look in 10, 20, 30 years. The Board experience at YNPN has been a tremendous growing opportunity for me & I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am excited to spend another 2 years serving & hope you consider joining too… trust me, it’ll be one of the best decisions you ever make in your career.
I joined the National Board in 2012 and have been hooked ever since. I was recently asked when I planned to term off the board and had difficulty providing a response. True, all good thing must come to an end, but the thought of me not being a part of a team of some of the wittiest, funniest, most supportive, smartest people I know, was a bit daunting. When you are surrounded by true leadership and true friendship, it’s challenging to imagine not being around, not being a part of the process that makes our network as strong as it is, not being connected to some of the most hard-working, dedicated and committed chapter leaders I have seen in any organization.
Two years later and I am still as pumped and enthusiastic about YNPN as I was when I first joined the National Board. The time and dedication National Board members devote to strengthening and growing our network is truly commendable. The amount of growth, just within the past two years, speaks to our desire to provide our network with the best resources, opportunities and experiences; and we are doing it! We continue to strive for excellence and are always looking for new talent to push us farther than we thought possible. So, for now, I guess YNPN National is stuck with me because I am surely stuck on them!
Over the next few weeks you may see us talking, tweeting, and posting about #ynpn14. That's because on June 26-28 we'll be hosting our National Conference and Leaders Institute in the Twin Cities. (Official hashtag #ynpn14, of course.)
For the past 7 years, YNPN chapter leaders from across the country have gathered to collaborate, connect, and help shape the future of the network. Each year the conference is co-hosted by a local chapter, with YNPN Twin Cities stepping up to help organize this year's event.
Our leaders at last year's conference in Phoenix
Our National Conference is an opportunity for professional growth and personal connection among our chapter leaders. It's also an opportunity to share best practices and get connected to resources that can help them in their work leading their local chapters.
And we definitely have a good time:
This year we have more chapters represented than ever before. For a snapshot of who's coming to the conference, check out this infographic.
We are so excited to announce that YNPN and Nonprofit Quarterly are partnering for the very first time to work together and with you to amplify the voices of young nonprofit professionals.
This is the beginning of an exciting relationship where young nonprofit professionals and one of the social sector's leading publications can educate one another and sustain a healthy information ecosystem.
To kick off this partnership, they've asked for a little bit of feedback from you about the issues that matter most to you, your work, and the sector.
Please take a moment to take this brief survey, and please share this survey with your colleagues and networks.
YNPN will be on hand to review the results with NPQ during their annual editorial meeting. This is a chance for YNPs to wield our influence. Take a moment to make your voice heard!