Image from drsheltie.blogspot.com
Betty Jeanne here again, Talent Coordinator for YNPN National. Over these past couple of months, I’ve been doing lots of reading and online research about talent management. But some of the most valuable feedback for my work - especially in terms of how YNPN thinks about talent management - came via the virtual road trip with all 29 of our active chapters that Trish and Ashley took on in January.
For many YNPN chapters, the fact that so much of our work is made possible by volunteers is a source of great pride and accomplishment. We are a wide network of young nonprofit professionals who have worked passionately and tirelessly to build a thriving and rapidly-growing organization – and that’s on top of juggling our “day jobs” and personal lives! Our organizational culture truly centers and empowers volunteers: at YNPN, volunteers know they have a stake, a voice, a crucial role to play, and an area of expertise to offer and build upon.
Yet, our volunteer-driven nature also presents some real obstacles. For example, most literature on recruiting and developing volunteers in nonprofit organizations assumes that there are paid staff charged with volunteer management. But what about organizations like YNPN, where volunteers are managed by other (busy) volunteers? How do we provide the consistency, availability, and strategic leadership development that volunteers need to do what’s expected of them, and thrive in the process? How do we build volunteer engagement systems into our organizations, when we have little financial or paid staff resources available to make that happen? How do we maintain morale and motivation when we are bumping up against real limits of volunteers’ capacity?
What we learned is this talent quandary looks different for each chapter: Some are looking for better ways to recruit people into their leadership structures – especially folks that lend all manner of diversity - and perhaps wondering if the leadership structure needs to be revamped in order to bring new people in. Others might excel at recruitment, but struggle with retention: for example, how to build an ongoing ladder of engagement which develops leaders as they get more and more involved in YNPN. Some chapters want to strengthen the ways they orient and train leaders when they come on board, and find the most appropriate roles to build on their talents and interests. Others are at the point of considering hiring paid staff, and evaluating whether this is the best approach to growing their organization.
To help our chapters with all of these undertakings, I’ve been wading through all sorts of information on talent management. Much is geared toward human resources professionals in for-profit organizations – though there are plenty of transferable lessons for the non-profit sector. Even among articles geared toward nonprofit organizations, I’m scouring to find more resources that speak directly to YNPN’s situation, as an almost entirely volunteer-driven organization.
But because we also heard that our chapters learn best when they learn from one another, we are thrilled to offer an interactive webinar series this spring to foster dialogue and resource-sharing on talent management among our chapters. Some of the topics we’ll address include:
- What leadership structures are our chapters using, and what are they rationale behind them? What structures are serving chapters well, and which are posing challenges?
- Thinking creatively “beyond the board”: What are other models of volunteer engagement – committees, chapter “ambassadors”, and more – that folks are experimenting with?
- Tools on how to identify the core goals of your organization, and develop an appropriate talent pool to meet them.
- Lessons from YNPN National about developing talent to meet our goals. For example: how the hybrid volunteer/staff model of LaunchPad Fellows was developed, and how it’s helping YNPN National achieve success.
These live webinars will be happening Wednesday, March 20th and Tuesday, April 16th at 9pm Eastern / 6pm Pacific. We’ll record them for folks who can’t make it or want to refer back to the content, and we’ll be providing print resources to provide additional tools and resources. Keep an eye on this blog, our Facebook and Twitter, and your inbox for complete details.
Meanwhile, check out last month’s blog post for more on how YNPN is developing dynamic strategies and systems for talent - volunteer, staff, and board - recruitment, management, and development.
As always, we want to hear from you. Are you a YNPN chapter struggling with or testing out solutions to some of these issues? Do you work in other parts of the sector and face similar challenges? Leave your comments below, and, if you’re a chapter leader - make sure you join us for those webinars. We hope you’ll join the conversation!
By Betty-Jeanne Rueters-Ward, LaunchPad Fellow and National Talent Coordinator
New Board, Clear Vision
Have you ever had that experience where you decide to make something from a recipe you found online? You get the exact ingredients, follow the steps to the letter, and then you're still kind of shocked when it comes out looking like it did in the photo on the food blog?
I think that's exactly the sort of experience I found myself having a few weeks ago as I stood in the lobby of the Ford Foundation watching the 2013 YNPN National Board arrive for the first day of our board retreat.
Back in 2011, the YNPN National Board recognized that we needed a significant overhaul of our board structure in order to best support the organization that we were becoming - a staffed nonprofit overseeing an increasingly sophisticated network with growing influence in the sector. Under the ever-patient guidance of the Marla Cornelius from CompassPoint, we dove into the arduous process of really laying out what we wanted to accomplish at this exciting-but-kind-of-weird phase of our organizational growth, and what sort of governance structure we’d need to guide us into our next phase.
Pausing to take stock is hard for any organization, but especially hard for organizations like YNPN where the board essentially serves as staff. It meant that, for almost a full, uncomfortable year we had to do a lot of what felt more like talking than doing. It meant that we had to say no to opportunities that felt like they would disappear and direct support for our chapters went bare bones. It meant we didn’t recruit new board members for a full cycle and current board members carried a bigger load. It meant that some of those people left frustrated and the ones who stayed felt stretched.
But it also meant that when we’d finally agreed upon a new structure, what looked like a simple chart had a solid layer of critical conversations underneath it about the work laid out in each of those boxes and the types of people we believed should take seats within that structure. It was a little like staring at the recipe on the food blog.
And we couldn’t be more thrilled with the way the recipe turned out. The 2013 YNPN National Board members represents all the things we love about YNPN and aspire for the sector to be: They are sharp, they are passionate, they are fun, they believe in possibilities and they are grounded and skilled in the work that needs to be done.
It was with this group, that we were able to develop for the first time almost 5 years a mission and vision statement for YNPN that feels totally resonant. Make no mistake, the process for arriving at these statements was challenging and actually did reveal the true diversity in the room. But under the expert facilitation of long-time YNPN consultant, Caroline Bolas, we were able to agree upon ideas, phrases, and words that spoke for each of us. We began by looking to the statements of our chapters for inspiration, then reflected on our own hopes and dreams for the world and for the sector, then zeroed in on the unique roles and responsibilities of YNPN, the network and YNPN, the National organization.
We arrived here:
Our Vision ("what the world will look like if YNPN is successful"):
Stronger communities propelled by a network of inspired and engaged leaders.
Our Mission (YNPN's role in making this vision a reality):
The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) is a movement. We activate emerging leaders to advance a diverse and powerful social sector.
And from here, we’re so excited to move forward with all of you.
But we’d also like to know what you think! What resonates with you or rubs you about this new mission and vision for YNPN National. (Chapter leaders, especially - we’d love to hear from you!) Leave your comments below!
Betty Jeanne here and I’m thrilled to be in dialogue with all of you. As this blog recently announced, I’m one of the LaunchPad fellows working with YNPN National this year. The focus of my work is on talent management: how YNPN (and the larger nonprofit sector) recruits, develops, and retains leaders for our crucial work. Part of my task is evaluating and strengthening the internal systems and structures YNPN uses for talent management. However, I’m especially eager to contribute to a sector-wide conversation about the topic - and to hear from all of you about your own wisdom and experiences.
As I began working with YNPN, I found great alignment between my own vision for the nonprofit sector, and that of our national organization. We were asking similar questions: How do you best support the exceptional leaders - both paid and volunteer - to make our vision a reality? What unique opportunities and challenges does the nonprofit sector face with leadership development? What best practices have YNPN chapters developed around talent management, and how can we amplify those lessons to be shared nationally?
Personally, my approach to talent management reflects my overall orientation to nonprofit leadership. My work centers on relationship; on building and leveraging a diverse network in service of an organization's mission and vision. I support the holistic wellbeing of both paid and unpaid leaders, knowing their experience – from recruitment to retention – plays a crucial role in determining an organization's success.
I’m aware that the practice of talent management (TM) is rapidly changing due to shifts in the nonprofit sector, economic and political climates, generational turnover in the workforce, and new technological developments. We will need greater innovation and creativity to first identify the human resources (or “people power”) needed to accomplish an organization’s goals, then to find ways to strategically meet those needs.
Some of the lessons I’ve gathered about talent management:
- Organizations have their own unique SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) for talent management (TM). A strategy for TM must consider these factors in order to enable an organization reach its particular goals.
- The nonprofit sector specifically requires us to value and develop both unpaid (volunteer) talent and paid staff, and to explore hybrid models of paid and unpaid staffing.
- Understanding and addressing generational differences – for example, how to connect more effectively with an increasing workforce of tech-immersed “Millennials” – is essential. Fostering intergenerational community contributes to organizational vitality overall.
- More than ever, professional and personal lives are managed through social media and mobile platforms: our methods of outreach must respond to this trend.
- Increasing turnover rates call us to a greater emphasis on retention that responds to leaders’ individual needs. Personally, I am passionate about one-on-one support of leaders, as well as strengthening overall morale and teambuilding.
- Organizations must combine external recruitment with internal development (building skills and leadership among existing leaders) to ensure the talent they need.
- Leaders need to feel a positive connection not only to an organization’s brand, but to the underlying values that guide its work.
- We can learn so much from intentionally observing and evaluating the experience of both current leaders (retention), as well as potential candidates (recruitment).
- Talent management must be an ongoing, intentional process that engages all stakeholders – staff, volunteers, board members, donors, etc. – in building the strongest organization possible.
Most of all, I’m eager to learn from all of you about your own experiences with talent management, and exchange ideas for how to make this part of our work even stronger. In the comment box below, I’d love to hear:
- How are the points above showing up in your organization? Where are you struggling? Where are you making inroads?
- What great resources or insights have you come upon lately in these areas?
Chapter leaders: keep an eye out for an invitation for you to contribute your own lessons, questions, and best practices on talent management in the coming months. We’ll be sharing tools and resources over social media, and exploring the topic more deeply on the YNPN blog.
by Betty-Jeanne Rueters-Ward, LaunchPad Fellow and National Talent Coordinator
I remember being an undergrad and asking Dan Doughterty, one of the directors of our campus social justice center, why he always took the bus. I knew where he lived, I knew he had a car, and I knew that it took him an extra 45 minutes to get to campus every day each way because he chose to ride the bus instead of taking his car. I think I expected something about environmental impact or gas prices in response. Instead he said, “Well, when you do the sort of work we’re trying to do here, I just think it’s important to start every morning standing in community.”
Over the years, the people whose practice I’ve most admired have always been people who’ve lived into this philosophy in some form or another. Whether it was my boss at the Building Movement Project, Frances, who would literally get itchy if she spent more than three straight weeks researching and writing about social movements rather than being “on the ground;” or fierce Sister Gene from my high school who ran around Latin America every summer to various demonstrations where she thought the presence of an American might lower the chances of (but not necessarily guarantee against) a massacre.
Fortunately, I’ve never had a job that required me to stand so directly in the line of fire, but the importance of actually touching the people and communities that you’re working “for” has been deeply, thankfully ingrained in me over the years.
So in 2012 during my first year as Director of YNPN, I knew that I wanted to spend as much time as I could with our chapters and our chapter leaders - that I would learn the most in that space about what our network was truly contributing to building a more just and equitable world and the direction I needed to set in order to help our chapters do this even more effectively.
While I didn’t have a chance to visit with every one of our 34 chapters (though at some point I do remember believing that this was actually possible. Yeah, not sure what I was thinking there...) I did have a chance to visit with 12 of our chapters over the course of the year - Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Twin Cities, New York City, DC, Boston, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Southwest Michigan. On each of these trips, I was consistently reminded of everything that kept Dan and Frances and Sister Gene on the bus and on the ground and in solidarity.
On each of these trips, I was reminded of how vibrant, creative, values-driven, strategic, diverse, and vital to communities our chapters are. It was during these trips that the first projects of YNPN 3.0 took shape and the YNPN LaunchPad Fellowship became an obvious solution for expanding our capacity. I would get on the plane humbled and energized and return to my desk clearer, more full of possibilities, and driven to do what needed to be done to support the network.
We have much to be proud as a network from the past year - both in terms of National recognition and in terms of all the amazing programming provided by our chapters. Knowing, however, how much more network infrastructure we still have to build to become THE platform for developing and moving diverse talent throughout the nonprofit sector, I thought it was critical to start the year by “getting back on the bus” - virtually for now. For the month of January, our new Field Coordinator/LaunchPad Fellow Ashley and I will be hosting calls and google hangouts with every single established chapter in the YNPN Network, starting with Atlanta and ending in Las Vegas.
We’ll be posting and tweeting along the way so be sure to like us on Facebook and follow the #ynpnvrt13 on twitter to learn fun facts about the chapters we’re “visiting.” The goal will be to expand on what we learned from spending time with 12 chapters in 2012 and use it to set a bold strategic vision in 2013.
Mostly, it will be an opportunity to start our year standing in community.
It started out this summer as something of an internal design challenge: how do we take our current resources (i.e. money, people, staff capacity, good will) and rearrange them in such a way that everyone gets back more than what they put in?
One of the many exciting results of this organizational shift in thinking is the YNPN National LaunchPad Fellows program - a way for aspiring nonprofiteers interested in building skills and experience in a very specific area to lend their time and talents to a fast-growing, dynamic organization.
A little over two months ago we put the call out that we were looking for energetic, talented folks from the YNPN network and beyond, who might be willing to offer us 10 hours a week of their time and talents in exchange for substantive work in an area they hoped to learn more about, focused professional development, and a modest stipend.
We were *completely overwhelmed* by the response - not only by the number of applicants but by the quality, range, and depth of experiences they brought with them. Folks applied from all over the country and the Fellows we were lucky enough to select are proof positive that the nonprofit sector absolutely does not suffer from a lack of talent.
It's a great privilege for us to introduce Shinei, Ashley, Laci and Betty Jeanne.* Click here to learn more about the work that they'll be doing for YNPN, what makes them tick, and - most importantly - how to connect with them.
(Special thanks to the Annie E. Casey foundation for their ongoing commitment to building a stronger, more impactful sector.)
*UPDATE: We've added a fifth YNPN LaunchPad Fellow since this post originally went up in November. You can learn more about Krysten Lynn Ryba-Tures, our Data Coordinator, by clicking on the link above!
The second in a 3-part blog series by Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Trish Tchume of YNPN
Pedro Trujillo is 23 years old and has been organizing around immigration reform for 4 years, currently at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles(CHIRLA). He tells an important story of unintended consequences—of unintentionally pitting generations against one another in the national movement to pass the Dream Act.
Instead, he says, he would like people who were pushed out of high school and did not obtain their diplomas to take ownership of the fact that they too are Dreamers. "I want immigrant grandparents and families to step out and say, 'We are Dreamers too!'"
With what he calls "the small but important victory of the Obama Administration’sdeferred action policy," multigenerational leadership was essential. "The whole reason we won 'deferred action' is that all parts of the immigration reform movement started saying the same thing, not just the youth."
|Jeanne Bell and Trish Tchume||In co-designing our joint conference, Generations of Change: A Multigenerational Leadership Conference, YNPN and CompassPoint were committed to moving the generational differences conversation forward to how the generations can and are working together for progressive social change. One of our panelists was especially provocative on the topic.|
|The mainstream often expressed acceptance of the Dream Act because eligible young people were "not at fault" and were "brought here against their will." He says this messaging came about in part through immigrant-youth-led discussions on what language would work best and be viable with mainstream America.||Youth activists from CHIRLA’s, Wise UP! program in Los Angeles|
|"Once young immigrant leaders began to incorporate these talking points into their story of self, many other students adopted it without question. Naturally, politicos jumped on this messaging too, as well as the media and everyone else. I say naturally because it is easier to stand next to and demand for an undocumented student to be considered 'American' if they are on their way to a degree, than to do the same for someone who is a household worker or fast-food restaurant employee and is also undocumented.|
We agree with Pedro that activists across the generations have more that unites them than distinguishes them; our work together is the only path to meaningful victories in the work for social equity.
By Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Trish Tchume of YNPN
We thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Walter and Evelyn Haas, Jr. Fund for their investment in our collaborative national convening and this blog series it inspired.
The first in a 3-part blog series by Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Trish Tchume of YNPN
Multigenerational leadership is an organizational, network, and movement stance in which leaders of all ages prioritize their shared values and leverage the perspectives and capacities of all generations to achieve progressive social change together.
Does this definition resonate for you?
|That’s why we were concerned by the results of a survey we took at our August 2012 co-designed conference, Generations of Change: A Multigenerational Leadership Conference. More than 500 YNPN and CompassPoint stakeholders from across the country attended. As we kicked the day off, we asked attendees to participate in flash research—a quick pulse-taking of their knowledge and beliefs about multigenerational leadership.||Generations of Change Conference cartoon by Lloyd Dangle|
|Twenty-six percent of respondents said they felt no explicit effort in their corner of the nonprofit sector to embrace and leverage multigenerational leadership. Another 31% weren’t sure if they did—suggesting uncertainty about what we mean by the term and what conscious leveraging of leadership across generations could look like. While it’s a start that 43% did see evidence of these efforts, given the decade-plus we have all been at work on this, we hoped to be further along.|
By Trish Tchume of YNPN and Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint
- Building Movement Project Report: What Works: Developing Successful Multigenerational Leadership
|Jeanne Bell and Trish Tchume||The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) and CompassPoint share a deep commitment to nurturing a powerful and diverse leadership pipeline for the nonprofit sector. In our own ways, we have helped to shape the dialogue about who "next generation" leaders are; about what it takes to develop and sustain leaders in social equity work especially; and about what healthy leadership transitions entail as veteran leaders move from executive director seats into other sector leadership capacities.
This guest post from the YNPN National Leaders Conference comes to us from Sarah Kinser, founding co-chair of YNPN Little Rock and communications director for Arkansas Community Foundation. You can find her on Twitter @sarahkinser.
How can you build a movement to create meaningful change?
That's the question underlying Marissa Tirona's presentation on network leadership at this year''s CompassPoint Nonprofit Day conference. Tirona, senior project director for CompassPoint offered a primer on this emerging leadership model, which emphasizes creating change through open collaboration, experimentation and shared leadership.
The practical takeaways for YNPN members?
1. Map your network. How connected are you, really? Take a snapshot of your network by plotting out connections with individuals and organizations on a web. You'll be able to visualize trends and patterns in the way people connect, and you'll be able to identify key partners who can help you extend your network's reach.
Set a goal to reach out to less-connected members of your web to help them establish more relationships, or target a few new organizations to add to your web.
2. Identify "network weavers". Help your network thrive by recruiting leaders who will build and nurture connections. Every team needs:
- Weavers/Connectors who excel in meeting new contacts (people) and matching people with others who share overlapping interests.
- Project Coordinators who manage tasks, keep ideas moving forward, and maintain contact with team members.
- Network Facilitators who convene people and help focus the network.
- Network Guardians who nurture the network by establishing systems, communications processes, and resources.
That means everyone has to be in the know! Rather than holding key institutional knowledge within a central insider group, network leadership advocates throwing open the doors to create transparency and share knowledge. Within your organization, you can institutionalize communication practices that keep the entire network informed via social media, wikis, blogs, open meetings or member summits.
4. Position yourself (or your organization) to be a collaborator.Tirona says that one of the best ways to build your network is to start by listening. For YNPN chapters, that might mean taking a tour of nonprofits to hear about their work and to ask what services the YNPN chapter could offer that would be beneficial to their employees, or conducting a survey of other key organizations working to build the local nonprofit sector to learn about how their services overlap with, or are distinct from, YNPN's. Starting the conversation by listening creates an open space where natural partnerships can form.
How is your chapter working to expand its network and share leadership?
As many of you know from the emails going across this listserve, the report has gained considerable traction since its release in Fall 2011:
- In January, the Foundation Center did a podcast about the report with Trish and YNPNsfba Board Chair Amanda Pape Laneghan.
- Just a few days later, The Chronicle of Philanthropy hosted Trish and Jan Masaoka for an online conversation about employee morale where report drove much of the discussion.
- Idealist.org invited YNPN National to write a blog post about "Good in Theory."
In addition, some chapters and organizations are researching ways to conduct local versions of the national report. Others have integrated the report into their programming. Some have even hosted parties celebrating the report's release.
Help us keep all of this momentum going strong! Let us know what your chapter has done. Maybe your chapter's story will be featured by YNPN National!
Please complete the "Good in Theory" survey by Thursday, March 28. Please complete the survey even if your chapter has not yet done anything with the report. It will only take a few minutes and give National some valuable information about how the report has been used and how it can better support the chapters across the country.
We look forward to hearing from you and learning what your chapter has accomplished.
For the second time, YNPN was invited back to the White House for a tweet-chat with Jon Carson (@joncarson44), Director of Public Engagement at the White House to have a frank conversation about young people and the future of the nonprofit sector.