"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.
We’re thrilled to be a contributing partner for a new Stanford Social Innovation Review blog series, Talent Matters. Over the next 4 months, 8 nonprofit leaders (including YNPN) will share stories from the field highlighting real-world results achieved through a focus on talent.
Achieve Mission, American Express Foundation, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), The Management Center, Net Impact, ProInspire, and Public Allies will be joining us in sharing their approach to making talent a priority.
Check out the most recent post and the rest of the series over on the SSIR site!
In the fall of 2012, we started our LaunchPad Fellows program--essentially the first “staff members” we welcomed into YNPN after me.
About a month after the Fellows came on and we were off and running, I started to notice something that was heartwarming at first: our Fellows were really appreciative! I’d get these awesome notes from them that said:
“Thanks for sending me that follow up article about [topic we’d discussed]!”
“Thanks for listening to me vent this morning!”
It was really sweet! I would think to myself, “Awwww, these Fellows. They’ve been raised so well!”
Another month in, though, just after we finished our first round of the quarterly check-ins, the thanks were still coming:
“Thank you for taking extra time to help me figure this out!”
“Thank you for asking me what I thought. And actually listening!”
“Thank you for telling me that I did that well!”
But my reaction slowly started to change.
Look, I’m not naïve. In the first place, YNPN is an organization that focuses on personally and professionally developing young leaders. We were founded because young leaders knew that this development was important and they weren’t getting what they needed from other places.
Second, I go to conferences and sit on the panels all the time where we talk about how we have to be better at developing younger leaders. I champion the research (#fundthepeople!) that says we have to invest more. I read the blog posts that make the very clear case for how we can do better. I’m clearly aware that we have an issue when it comes to investing in talent.
But seriously? “Thank you for asking me what I thought. And actually listening.” ???
We, of course, want YNPN to be known as a great place to work. And it is! (Most days :) ) But we don’t want YNPN to be known as a great place to work because the people who show up here have dragged themselves across the professional desert and have finally found their way to the oasis that is our organization.
If you’re like me, those lists of the “Top 10/50/100 Best Places for Trish with Ebony & Michelle, two of our Launchpad Fellows, at our February retreat.
There’s often the fear of too many cooks in the strategic kitchen but we’ve found that we can either invest time on the front end and figure out the best ways to facilitate appropriate engagement from everyone in our org. Or we can invest time on the back end getting our team to buy into the vision and plan we developed off on a mountaintop somewhere. We’ve chosen the front-end strategy. So when the board has an in-person planning meeting, the Fellows and staff come too.
Granted this is a bit of an organizational luxury given that our bench isn’t so big - we have a staff of two full-time folks, three Fellows, a couple of awesome contractors, and a board of 15. Still, I can see this remaining a central part of our culture even as we grow in size. We’ve learned that our strongest ideas and strategic plans are shaped in spaces where folks from all levels of the organization are around the table. And the level of investment in carrying out those plans is incomparable.
One of the images from Jamie's onboarding package. This is the commitment YNPN shows to welcoming new staff.
4. We’re serious about onboarding.
I had an internship my junior year of college where I showed up in the office, my manager met me at the door, took me to my desk, and gave me a piece of paper with 3 or 4 assignments. Then she left. Within 30 minutes I had a question...and I had no idea where my manager’s desk was.
I think often about that experience whenever we plan out an onboarding. We have a great track record of hiring folks who are smart, committed, and creative with a good amount of skill and even more potential. We’ve learned through experience that they’re ready and willing to contribute amazing things for the organization, but only if we help them get a feel for the space within which they have to create-- both in terms of workplan and in terms of culture. So our onboarding plans are extensive--intensive at first and then additional meetings and readings stretch out over the first several months. But it’s all aimed at helping create a sense of deep context for team members while allowing them space to do their thing.
5. We ask folks what they need to be successful and we try our best to provide that.
Each year we do set aside resources in our budget to pay for professional development for team members. Our staff and Fellows do a good job of taking advantage of the fund--signing up for webinars or attending conference that they think will help them with their work. But, honestly, when we ask our team members what they need to be successful, the vast majority are things that don’t cost anything at all. “I need you to let me know as soon as possible if I’m going in the wrong direction.” Or “I need you to introduce me to people who know how to do this thing I’m trying to do.” Or “I need to do my hours from really early and stop by mid-afternoon because that’s where my energy is best.”
And usually it’s not the thing itself that seems to have the most impact on their success (though we make a solid commitment to doing what we say we’re going to do), but the fact that we cared enough to ask.
By the way, all the little and big things that we’ve put in place to create an environment that people love--I didn’t make any of it up. When I stepped into the role as the first Director of YNPN National and had the opportunity to start solidifying the culture of the organization, I only had to rely 10% on my instincts. The other 90% came from almost 20 years of experience being managed and developed by incredible, passionate, brilliant individuals from my RA job as an undergrad to my last gig at the Building Movement Project.
These folk, each in their own small way, helped me form my basic philosophy for what the field now identifies as a whole body of practices known as “talent management.” Basically it’s this:
If you believe that your organization’s mission matters, then the people who carry it out matter too. And you should treat them accordingly.
(For more on YNPN’s internal Talent Philosophy, check out this report from last year’s LaunchPad Fellow for Talent Management, Betty Jeanne Reuters-Ward.)
After almost 8 years of engaging with the network as a volunteer, Trish Tchume is proud to be serving as the first-ever Director of YNPN National.
When not dreaming up various ways to harness the power of emerging nonprofit leaders, Trish likes to help her fellow New Yorkers find their inner voice as a volunteer story coach with the Moth and regularly takes her life into her own hands biking and jogging through the streets of NYC. She equally credits her rich Jesuit education, her strong Ghanaian roots, and a severe case of middle child syndrome for her commitment to engaging as many people as possible in the important work of building a just and equitable society.
You can contact Trish at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @ttchume.
Huddle icon from Andrew McKinley via the Noun Project
One form of labor in the nonprofit sector that’s often under-appreciated is volunteer labor. All of our local chapters are run entirely by volunteers from the community, and across the network we see firsthand the kind of amazing work that volunteers can accomplish and how dedicated they can be.
The members of YNPNsfba’s Volunteer Corps, for example, commit to spending 20 hours per month furthering their chapter’s mission. Here YNPNsfba Volunteer Manager Lizzie Timbers Lara shares some of what she’s learned about how to manage and retain a dedicated group of volunteers.
Volunteers are the unsung heroes of the nonprofit sector. Although it may sound like a cliché, it could not be more true. Volunteers add manpower to nonprofit organizations that the organization would not be able to get elsewhere. They put tireless hours into causes and contribute to nonprofits’ successes. In organizations like YNPN, the volunteers run the whole organization. Whether your organization has volunteers only for events, has volunteer interns on a long term basis or is entirely volunteer run, it is essential to know how to recruit, retain and appreciate your volunteers.
YNPNsfba Board & Volunteer Corps. Photo by Moua Lo.
At YNPNsfba, we keep a volunteer application on our website to recruit volunteers. Because we are volunteer run we take applications on a rolling basis, but September is when we have our push for new volunteers. We are fortunate enough to have long standing social media accounts with a strong follower base that we are able to use to recruit volunteers.
Although we are able to recruit some awesome volunteers digitally, I have found that the best way to find volunteers is at events. When you meet someone at an event, you know they have already taken the first step and shown interest by attending. You can speak to them to see what their interests and skills are. People who show enthusiasm in getting involved and using their skills are people who I look for to volunteer.
In the last year, we have created an official onboarding system at YNPNsfba. The first step in the onboarding process is for the manager to meet in-person with the volunteer. This is one of the most important aspects to emphasize. The importance is two-fold; when the new volunteer is able to meet at least one other volunteer they feel connected to the organization, secondly if you cannot get a new volunteer to schedule a time to meet with you in-person, they most likely will not be an engaged volunteer.
We also have a volunteer orientation packet that the managers go through with the volunteers which covers YNPNsfba history, mission, values and structure. It is important that the volunteer understand all of this before volunteering, so that they will understand the organization they are working for better. When I was brought on as a volunteer, this system was not in place and it took me a couple years to really understand the organization’s structure and how it works. It is important when bringing on a new volunteer that they feel connected with the organization and understands their role in the organization.
Members of YNPNsfba at the Board & Volunteer Corps retreat. Photo by Moua Lo.
Volunteer retainment is always something that is difficult. We have found that the in-person onboarding helps with retainment. It is also important for the manager to be clear about what will be expected of the volunteer and ensure that is something that they can commit to. To help with retainment, I encourage my managers to have regular monthly meetings with their committees. I have found that the best practice is to schedule the next month’s meeting before the end of each meeting that way everyone is clear when you will meet next. The regularity of meeting helps to keep the volunteer engaged. Volunteers who feel like they are contributing and helping are more likely to stay involved and not leave.
Free food never hurts your volunteer retention strategy. Photo by Moua Lo.
One of the best ways to keep volunteers is to make sure that you are recognizing and appreciating them. There are various ways which we try to ensure that our volunteers feel appreciated at YNPNsfba. Volunteer appreciation does not have to be a lavish thing. We appreciate our volunteers with food at meetings.
We also recognize our volunteers with a picture and small bio of each volunteer on our website and regularly updating our social media with pictures of our volunteers. Birthday cards can also be a nice way to show your appreciation. Most of our volunteers are looking for professional experience opportunities. Getting volunteers into conferences or trainings are great ways to foster their career and appreciate them. Volunteer appreciation can be simple, but the important part is to make sure that you are recognizing your volunteers in some aspect and make sure they know that you are grateful for the work they are doing.
At YNPNsfba, volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization. Without energetic, motivated volunteers our organization would not exist. We know we're not the only organization in the sector that this is true for, and we hope that all organizations can be thoughtful about how they manage and value volunteer labor.
Lizzie Timbers Lara
Lizzie Lara is the Development and Communications Director at YNPNsfba. In her role, she oversees the development, membership and marketing committees. Lizzie started her nonprofit career in high school when she was President of a conservation nonprofit, she has been dedicated to social good ever since. Her day job, is at the Homeless Action Center in Oakland, where she works as the Administrative Assistant. She is passionate about human rights, social justice and Latin America. Follow her on Twitter @LizzieTimbers
Volunteer icon from Wilson Joseph via The Noun Project
Jaimie Sorenson is a member of YNPN Portland who has also been a labor union member for over a decade. In our latest #nplabor piece, Jaimie shares her experience in today's labor movement.
I've been a member of a labor union for thirteen years. I didn’t come from a union family and knew nothing about unions before I joined one, except for what I had seen in a Jimmy Hoffa movie.
My education on unions was self-taught. It started when I left employment in the University Hospital I had worked in since high school and began working for a for-profit hospital. I was naïve to think that health insurance, sick leave and vacation time were standard across the industry.
I quickly learned I was wrong, so I returned to my former unionized employer. I decided to learn more about the union and get involved. Those pursuits lead me to pursue any opportunities my union offered, and they were ample.
I gained wonderful experiences at a very young age in presenting before hundreds of thousands of people, crafting workshops and creating new committees focused on issues my co-workers and I cared about. I found my voice in the union. Later I was elected to almost every officer position in the union and that eventually landed me in my current career as a union representative.
I’m often asked what it means to be a union rep. I usually explain by saying I’m in labor relations. I work with employers on a variety of issues: sometimes I’m in an advocacy role for the workers, bargaining contracts, and mediating workplace issues; at other times I’m helping to draft policies through negotiations, identifying cost savings and efficiencies for the employer and hopefully empowering workers as I’ve been empowered. I currently work with both public and nonprofit sector employees through Oregon AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees).
Jaimie Sorenson with Sen. Jeff Merkley
Public and nonprofit sector employees both tend to be mission-focused, sometimes at their own expense. All too often in the nonprofit sector we tend to put the mission before the workers. I’m not advocating that anyone be less passionate about what they do. However, I do feel that workers need to be taken care of as well, and this is where a union can come into play.
I’ll give an example: One of the first contracts I ever negotiated was for group home workers who cared for developmentally disabled adults. The workers were very focused on fulfilling their mission and so was their employer, often to the extent that they ignored some of the basic needs the workers had. This resulted in big retention problems because the workers would burn out and move onto other employers.
This was very hard on the clients who didn’t understand why their friends, caregivers, and counselors were leaving them. In order to stop the floodgates, we need to address the problems that were causing the burn out.
As with many nonprofits, the main issue was funding. I worked with our lobbying team and headed to the state capitol to advocate for more funding for these types of organizations. I’m proud to report that we received an 8% increase in funding for all subsidized group homes in my state. This resulted in increased wages and the ability to hire more staff. Because of our union, these workers who serve one of the most vulnerable populations in our state no longer make the same wages as fast food workers.
Unions can be instrumental in ensuring that an employer has a sustainable operation. We share that interest with employers, thought that’s not the common public perception. We actually want to help ensure that the employer remains in business and is the best business it can be.
Unions can also help solve workplace issues, secure funding, work to defeat bad legislation and create helpful legislation as well. We advocate for workers, and in the long run when a worker is happy, the work is better. It’s a win-win for workers and business. As a union representative, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many employers who agree with this philosophy. I hope to see more organizations adopting this philosophy in the future.
Jaimie Sorenson is a staff representative for Oregon AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees).
In the nonprofit sector we generally do quite a bit of reflection on our work. We often ask ourselves what good nonprofit leadership looks like and how we can be better practitioners and change agents. Yet one thing we don't talk very much about is how labor and employment practices affect the answers to those questions.
When we decided to take a look at labor issues this month, we found that the list of things we could talk about, both in and out of the nonprofit sector, could make for months worth of blog posts. As our economy moves toward knowledge work and away from what we traditionally think of as "labor," we're renegotiating boundaries like the 40-hour work week and the minimum wage.
Those of us in the nonprofit sector are especially impacted by these issues--not only are we workers ourselves, but we're also often in the position of advocating for those who are marginalized in the economy and vulnerable to exploitation. This month we wanted to take a closer look at how young nonprofit professionals could not only be better advocates for themselves, but also more effective and informed advocates for their communities.
We'll be talking to experts in the fields of labor and management about what issues YNPs should have on their radar and how they can deal with some of the labor issues they may be encountering in their own workplaces. We'll also be talking transparently about how YNPN handles some of these issues as an employer.
And we hope to talk to you about your experiences. On May 23 at 2 pm CT we'll be hosting a Twitter chat to talk about labor issues in the nonprofit sector. Join us for the chat and all of our content and conversations this month with hashtag #nplabor.
by Trish Tchume, Director, YNPN National
Recently we here at YNPN have been discussing how important it is for us to model the way that we think the sector could be doing social change work so that the way we work and the amount we work is sustainable and leads to real transformation. This is one in a series of posts about the small steps we are making internally towards radical culture shifts that will facilitate just that.
By 2011, after years of being an all-volunteer organization, YNPN National managed to raise enough money to hire our first ED, who turned out to be yours truly. Not only was this role a first for the organization but it was a first for me, so I wanted to learn not only the practical basics of running an organization but also how people in my position personally handle the ‘swirl’ of nonstop to-do’s.
I learned two basic things about being an ED from these conversations with other ED’s:
1) Being an ED was apparently going to be really hard and overwhelming. And if it’s not hard and overwhelming, you’re probably doing it wrong.
2) It is very important to talk all the time - with other EDs, with your board, on panels, on Facebook, to toll booth operators (whoever has ears, really) - about how hard it is to be an ED.
Equipped with this information, I settled into my role and prepared for it to be hard and overwhelming. Not surprisingly - it was hard and overwhelming. Up until this point the network itself and the myriad of people and organizations interested in the network had been dreaming big about “what we could do if only we had more capacity...” This list ranged from the practical (i.e. finally upgrade that ugly website) to the revolutionary (i.e. become THE pipeline for moving diverse talent throughout the social sector) and everyone could not be more excited to finally have a person - an actual person! with a face! and an email address! - to share their big ideas for how to make these dreams real.
This translated into a lot of meetings. I mean A LOT of meetings. Notebooks filled with the ideas that people would very much like to see me move forward. Yesterday, please.
I said yes to everything and promised to do even more. I also felt completely overwhelmed and wasn’t sleeping, but then I remembered from my conversations with the other EDs that horrible feeling meant that I was doing things right. I remember lying in bed thinking about how many meetings I had each day and how little I was looking forward to most of them. It took me awhile but finally, I started thinking about the one part of being an ED that no one had really said much about up to that point:
For the first time in my life, I was “the boss.” Technically, I could decide to do whatever I want.
This, however, landed on me not as a realization of power but as a sense of responsibility. I wasn’t just “the boss,” I was the leader of an organization founded in part to counter the culture I was currently swept up in. (Apparently that point was lost on me in the swirl.) So I began to think very practically about how I would want to make more space for myself but also what I would want to model for both our members and the wider sector.
Thus the December Strategy was born.
Initially, I set the entire month of December aside as a time to regroup, reflect, and think big picture. I turned down all meetings, phone calls, and speaking engagements for the whole month of December in order to catch up on work and sleep and I just hoped that people would understand.
I still remember the first email that I sent in response to someone requesting a meeting in December. It was right before Thanksgiving and the thought of asking someone to hold their idea till January 2012 seemed both outrageous and rude. But I’d made a commitment to myself and I was determined to stick to it. So I agonized over the wording of the email for 45 minutes, read and re-read it, hit send, and waited for the reply. I expected a few things in return:
1) Pushback from the person letting me know that their issue was incredibly important and they couldn’t possibly wait for 6 weeks to discuss it.
2) No response at all from the person, ever, and refusal to partner with YNPN whose Director was clearly a giant diva.
To my huge surprise, I didn’t get either reaction. The person actually wrote back 10 minutes later to give me props! In her response, she let me know that of course the conversation could wait till January and she congratulated me for being so good about setting boundaries for myself. Of course, I didn’t tell her that I was setting these boundaries now because I’d done such a bad job of setting them during my first two months that I no longer had a choice, but her encouragement built my confidence. Soon I found myself firing off “Talk to you in January!” emails without flinching.
And just like that, the December Strategy became a thing.
While technically, the December Strategy remains the space that I will set for myself for the third year in a row during the last month of 2013, it has come to mean much more to me than that.
- First, it has come to symbolize a resistance to the notion that all types of nonprofit work carry the same level of urgency. The work that YNPN National does is important. But we are not Doctors Without Borders.
- Second, it’s a tribute to a Meg Wheatley quote I once heard during a speech given by Kim Klein: “If we want our world to be different, our first act has to be claiming time to think. We can’t expect those who are well served by the current reality to give us time to think. If we want anything to change, we are the ones who have to reclaim time.”
And she’s right.
- Finally, it’s a reminder that I and so many of my fellow YNPNers were drawn to this network and continue to be committed to it because it gave us the space to organize in a way that values both mission and the people working towards that mission - something that many of us were not seeing in the vast majority of the organizations where we were actually employed. In this way, the December Strategy feels like as much of an opportunity as it does a responsibility to model the way we believe the sector could be working more strategically towards social change.
Do you have a version of the December Strategy - a small but radical way that you or your organization is changing the way you work, in order to work better for change? Let us know in the comment box!
by Alnierys Venegas, cross-posted from YNPN Chicago.
Castle Pub was energetic and vibrant as YNPN Chicago celebrated its Board Meet and Greet. It was great to see the overwhelming response of YNPN members who are interested in board service. While mingling with prospective recruits, I reflected on my own personal journey as a member of the YNPN Chicago Board and the valuable lessons, as well as experiences, that I have learned throughout my tenure.
It is exciting to be a part of a member-driven, all-volunteer, working board of young nonprofit professionals committed to enhancing the sector, but there are three key things that I have learned during my time with YNPN that I would like for those considering board service to think about:
You Are the Workhorse – Being a part of a board will require completing tasks independently, or in a team, in order to assist with the organization’s strategic plan, mission, and vision. Often times, people assume that board involvement has little to no responsibilities aside from attending meetings, so you’ll often overhear comments like this:
“Huh…this is so much work.”
“I didn’t’ think I was going to be responsible with actually executing the idea I presented in the meeting.”
“Can’t somebody else take on the responsibility?”
My YNPN colleague, Aaron House, explained this concept best in his blog, “A Board Service.” You will be expected to be accountable for taking on tasks outside of the board room. In short, you are the workhorse.
You Create the Experience – Aside from the work that is expected, there will be plenty of opportunities to attend board events, functions, and meetings. This is a great opportunity to get to know your peers and meet new meet people. If you choose not to attend or if you limit yourself from engaging in those extracurricular activities, then your board experience will, more than likely, not be as enjoyable or fulfilling as it could be. The whole purpose of board participation is growing personally and professionally while connecting with individuals that could aid both in your career and personal lives. Connect. Engage. Create a memorable experience!
You Make a Commitment – Board terms last 1-2 years. That can seem like a pretty long time for a young professional, especially when you don’t know what kind of life circumstance you will face such as family, relationship, school, or career changes. Despite these circumstances you should honor your term commitment. Doing so not only demonstrates steadfastness, but your ability to respect your peers who joined hoping to have your support in board service. Not to mention, it also helps to build your character.
As I end my board service with YNPN Chicago, I will take with me not only these key lessons, but a phenomenal experience that allowed me to meet new people, learn about other nonprofit organizations, and develop new skills which helped me to grow personally and professionally. Take it from me…be accountable, enjoy your board service, and honor the commitment that you accepted. It is worth it.
In my last position in the nonprofit workforce, I remember frequently talking to colleagues about our financial struggles. Despite working in a small human services nonprofit with few resources, we loved our jobs. Unlike many places I had worked in the nonprofit sector, within this particular organization the majority of staff members were under 30. In that same organization, turnover was high, with many of the staff leaving after a year.
Yet, most of the employees were not leaving to go to other nonprofit jobs. They simply decided that the financial costs of committing to the nonprofit workforce were not worth it. Many went to work in for-profit companies, and although some had social missions most did not. These personal experiences served as the impetus that led me back to school to obtain my Ph.D.
With those ideas in mind, I recently conducted a study examining Generation Y employees in the nonprofit workforce using the members survey many of you completed for YNPN in 2011. I combined this study with insights learned from an earlier study and investigated the relationship between compensation and the sector switching propensity of young people, comparing them to their Generation X (born between 1961 and 1981) counterparts.
I focused on sector switching as there are costs to both the vitality of the nonprofit workforce and the ability of nonprofit organizations to continue providing some of our nation’s most critical public services. I was interested in contributing to a more nuanced understanding of how the nonprofit sector could retain young people as studies on this topic to merely describe what proportion of the population wants to leave their job. There are few studies that predict what factors contribute to turnover and sector switching.
I began researching the literature and hypothesized that compensation would affect young nonprofit employees differently than other generations for several reasons. First, the nonprofit workforce has historically been composed of part-time employees. However, the sector now demands a professional workforce and many Universities have responded as demonstrated by an increase in the number of nonprofit education programs. Generation Y employees are also growing up at a time when there is a great deal of sector blurring. Employees no longer feel that they can only “make a difference” in the nonprofit sector. In the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University, where I teach, about a third of our graduates enter the for-profit, nonprofit, and public sectors. Finally, the notion of what a career is, has changed. Employees of all generations recognize the limitations of commitment to one employer for the entirety of their lives. Instead, a career is thought to be made up of several job changes (sometimes even lateral moves) in order for employees to gain the skills and knowledge they desire.
In this study there are six key findings:
- A high proportion of Generation X and Generation Y nonprofit managers plan to sector switch
- Salary does not affect the propensity of Generation X employees or managers to sector switch
- Salary does not affect the propensity of Generation Y employees to sector switch
- Salary does affect the likelihood that Generation X managers sector switch
- Perceptions of compensation equity (comparisons to peers) does not affect the propensity of Generation Y employees or managers to sector switch
- Generation X managers are unlikely to sector switch if they perceive their compensation is equitable to peers in other sectors
Another surprising (or maybe not so surprising) finding is that for Generation Y managers, but not Generation X managers, holding an advanced degree increases the likelihood that they will switch sectors. So what does all of this mean? For me, I have a few more insights about how to move forward in future research. First, money matters for Millennials, and there are hundreds of explanations as to why it would matter for their generation’s commitment to the nonprofit sector but not previous generations; yet, existing data does not allow me to test those ideas. Second, and most importantly, nonprofit managers can use this research to have honest conversations about turnover, sector switching, and what can be done to retain employees. More broadly, your membership in YNPN plays a vital role in continuing to advance these discussions and the time you take to complete the member survey matters!
NOTE: As all academics will attest, particularly those of us in more applied fields, we are terrified of our academic writing never impacting practice, and more honestly no one reading the work we spend our lives doing. Although I am looking forward to 1) people reading this blog and 2) the comments it ensues, I also want to make it clear that beyond what I explain above the data does not allow me to say more, beyond speculation.
Jasmine is the Assistant Professor at The George Washington University, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. She can be found on twitter: @Prof_McGinnis
 McGinnis, Jasmine. (2011). “The Young and Restless: Generation Y in the Nonprofit Workforce.” Public Administration Quarterly, 35 (3), 342-362 http://www.spaef.com/article/1288/The-Young-and-Restless:-Generation-Y-in-the-Nonprofit-Workforce
For many people, being a board member conjures up images of wealthy people writing checks and hosting fundraisers. While supporting the financial well being of a nonprofit is certainly part of a board member’s responsibility, there is a range of roles that board members can play and plenty of opportunities for people to volunteer their time and talent to support an organization they love.
This month I celebrate my one-year anniversary as a member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals NetworkNational Board. I joined the YNPN Board because I understand the importance of supporting and cultivating the next generation of nonprofit leaders, which will help ensure the sustainability of the sector in the long-term.
As a result of my pro bono work with YNPN’s National Director in the months prior to joining the board, I felt excited for this opportunity not only to give back by sharing my expertise, but also to gain new skills. This first anniversary has me thinking about some of what I have learned in the last year from this experience. I thought that it would be worthwhile to share a few specific ways that my board service has helped my career and how it might help yours, too:
Expand your network
A big responsibility of being on a board is raising awareness and funds for the organization. As a result, I have had the opportunity to connect with supporters from a variety of places.
For example, in the last year, I have come into direct contact with officials from well-known foundations, many leaders and members of YNPN chapters from across the country, some of the generous sponsors of our National Leaders Conference, and some of our strategic partners. By connecting with all of these people, I can get their assistance in pushing YNPN forward, but I also have the opportunity to deepen our relationship in the future. Since first being introduced to the writings of Keith Ferrazzi and his colleagues at Ferrazzi Greenlight, I have made it my business to build my network before I need it, so that it’s vital and ready whenever I need to call upon people in it; this strategy allows me to have greater long-term reach in my personal and professional lives.
Raise your profile in your organization and profession
By being on a board, I not only expanded my network but I also picked up new skills, ideas, and opportunities for my full-time work.
Just talking about some of the work I have been doing on the YNPN National Board has led to some interesting conversations at work and (I hope) displayed my commitment to building a long and successful career in the non-profit sector. Additionally, having direct board experience has definitely rounded out my approach to dealing with the members of the I-House Board of Trustees in all areas.
Strengthen project and team management skills
If you join a board, chances are you’ll join a committee (or a few) which means you’ll have to learn quickly how to manage projects and teams in order to help move the organization forward.
Personally, I have had to step up my game when it comes to project and team management, especially because we do the bulk of our work remotely. Managing your work as part of a team and assuring that the team moves forward is hard enough when done face-to-face, but requires extra focus and greater attention to detail when done remotely. These skills have surely bled over into my professional life as I have found myself being as clear as possible about strategy and goals, while also striving to be kept accountable as I keep my co-workers accountable.
Become a better coach
While being a board member can certainly help you grow your network, the real impact and change come when you do some hands-on work, specifically by helping others reach important goals.
At my first National Board Retreat, I led an informal session on fundraising to get an idea of how comfortable my fellow members were with fundraising concepts and making the ask. After establishing this baseline, I have partnered with my colleagues on the Board Development Committee to provide resources to deepen our collective fundraising knowledge and have worked one-on-one with each member on their personal giving & fundraising goals for the year. This individual work has allowed me to build coaching skills that will come in handy in my own efforts to better integrate the members of my organization’s board into the full spectrum of our fundraising program.
For those readers who are currently on boards or recently served on one, what skills did you gain and how did that impact your work?
For those who have not yet sat on a board, what would you like to get out of this service? And if you are considering it, what is giving you pause?
Dan is the Assistant Director of Development, Individual Giving at International House, a residential learning community primarily for international graduate students pursuing their studies in the Greater New York region. In this role, he oversees the annual fund, major gifts and planned giving portfolios. Dan blogs about fundraising and non-profit management issues at The Good Steward.