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
To my fellow young nonprofit professionals…
Has someone ever complimented you on your enthusiasm, fresh perspective, or energy? It’s happened to me – a lot.
Did it seem like that person was really just commenting on your age – speaking in code that you are young? I think that’s the case – a lot.
So, when colleagues asked me about the 2011 Conference of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, I was slow to speak. I didn’t want to talk about the event as exciting or youthful (even though that would be true).
Instead, I described the conference as bursting with resources!
And, that’s why I love young nonprofit professionals. We are so resourceful!
The 2011 conference demonstrates that we know how to:
- Transform a theatre into a convention center
- Develop a stellar program, busting at the seams with young leaders
- Leverage community partnerships for smart sponsorships
- Create real value with free tools, like social networking and blogging
- Host a warm, engaging event in a cold city
I’m grateful to the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network leadership and the 2011 conference organizers. They’ve reminded me that the best thing about being a talented young professional is not my enthusiasm but my resourcefulness.
Want to continue to cultivate your own resourcefulness? Check out my three live blog posts from the conference:
- How To Be a Great #YNPN11 Presenter
- What a 29-Year-Old Executive Director Can Teach You
- Knowledge Networks
JESSICA JOURNEY is a nonprofit professional, thriving in the Indianapolis community. She has more than five years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and philanthropy in the fields of higher education, health, and human services. Jessica’s background includes annual fund, communications, constituent management, and grants.
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!
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