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
Make Your Voice Heard. Improve Our Sector. Take YNPN’s National Voice Survey Today!
Over the past several years, a great deal of literature has been released noting significant leadership challenges for the nonprofit sector. With each issue revealed has come a compelling set of recommendations for how the sector can meet these challenges head on. As a movement of now over 20,000 nonprofit professionals nationwide, YNPN is uniquely positioned to put these recommendations to the test.
Is offering more competitive compensation a priority for retaining talent? Is your nonprofit engaging in succession planning? Is prioritizing diversity having a positive impact on your organization? The valuable feedback and experiences you and your peers will share by completing YNPN’s survey can help influence how our sector addresses its leadership challenges over the next decade.
Make sure our voice includes your perspective. Click here to start the survey now!
Also Help us Spread the Word...
YNPN chapters and partners around the country will be promoting the survey in their communities- chapters can find resources on how to spread the word here: http://ynpn.org/our-voice/take-action/
We look forward to sharing our results with you later this year!
Dan Dobin, YNPN National Voice Committee
After much anticipation, the Network’s WordPress platform is ready to implement! YNPN National is providing the hosting and basic support of the recommended WordPress solution, to your Chapter, free of charge.
If your Chapter is currently dependent on the iModules platform, beginning the transition and completing the process by February 1, 2011, must be a priority! The iModules platform will no longer be available through YNPN National after that time, and your information will become inaccessible! If you haven’t started to export your data and/or content, please do so (detailed instructions were provided in a Nov 22 email to the leaders list and can also be found on the tech site, accessible once you have been set up on the system, created specifically to assist in this transition).
If you had indicated through the Google Form that you are the main contact for this transition, Dana Skallman, member of the YNPN Tech Task Force, will contact you shortly via email, to confirm your Chapter information and create your user. Once you receive your login email, you will be ready to access the platform to build your new website and have access to the tech site which is loaded with helpful resources and common setup scenarios to ease the transition. (Chapters will be contacted in the following order: (1) those currently dependent on iModules, (2) those that do not have a site, and (3) those that have a site (not iModules) but interested in transitioning to the Network's platform.)
If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to contact Tuesday Çetin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YNPN National is excited to announce a discount for YNPN members across the country on the just released How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar e-book by top nonprofit bloggers Rosetta Thurman and Trista Harris.
They have co-authored the first book of its kind to offer career advice beyond just getting your foot in the door of a nonprofit organization. The book is a collection of Trista and Rosetta’s advice and lessons learned- and is certain to be a helpful resource to a young nonprofit professional looking to get to the next level. It is an engaging read, full of specific tips and engaging anecdotes about Trisha and Rosetta as well as other young professionals.
Synopsis from their website:
Do you feel stuck in your nonprofit career? Unsure how to take that next step? How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar is an accessible, do-it-yourself map of how to navigate the nonprofit sector and gives you the tools that you need to move from entry level to leadership. This book is designed for professionals who want to build meaningful and rewarding nonprofit careers. How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar is based on the authors’ experiences as well as interviews with nonprofit rockstars who have supercharged their careers. You’ll learn how to develop meaningful nonprofit experience, build a strong network, establish a strong personal brand, achieve the elusive work/life balance, and move on up in your career.
YNPN members receive a lifetime discount on the e-book version at http://www.e-junkie.com/shop/product/442001.php. Members can use the code YNPN to save $5 off the retail price.
If you are committed to nonprofits, ready for a new challenge, and want to help lead the YNPN movement, we encourage you to apply here by September 27 for a two-year term (Jan. 1, 2011 - Dec. 31, 2012) with the YNPN National Board.
We are a working board, helping to steer the course of YNPN's growth, national presence, committees, programs, and activities. We are looking particularly for people with skills and experience in:
- strategy and organization development
- familiarity with organizations comprised of geographically diverse chapters
- advocacy and/or marketing and public relations
- financial oversight
- fundraising (foundations, individuals, sponsorships)
Most importantly, we are seeking people who are passionate about the YNPN movement, are committed and follow through on their word, and are excellent project and volunteer managers. We also want to continue to diversify the board, not only in terms of race, gender etc., but also in terms of professions, geography, and involvement with YNPN chapters.
Below is a link to the board application, which will give you more information about the opportunities and responsibilities that come with National Board membership and the complete process to apply. This is an exciting time for the organization and board members will benefit from incredible professional and personal development opportunities. We hope you will consider joining us!
Link to the application:
If you have questions about the application process or about National Board service, please direct them to email@example.com.
Also, if you know of individuals who may be good candidates for the national board, please pass this information along to them.
The deadline to apply here is September 27, 2010. Selected candidates will interview with current board members in early October. Terms begin Jan. 1, 2011.
The 30 Summit brings the nation’s top young leaders to New York this Labor Day Weekend to think big by asking: what legacy will our generation leave?
As the world grapples with the global financial crisis, a national healthcare calamity, and persistent educational and economic inequities both at home and abroad, our generation’s legacy is becoming increasingly relevant. The youth of America need to begin to forge their legacy now in order to have a seat at the table as leaders from around the world make the decisions that will impact our generation. What if you had Barack Obama, Steven Spielberg, Meg Whitman, and Rick Warren in one room… 30 years ago? The Summit, by bringing together some of the most brilliant young Americans in one room thinking big about their legacies, seeks to do just that.
The 30 Summit is apolitical and therefore presents a breath of fresh air in an age when news is becoming more instantaneous and polarizing. In our homogenous and highly-segregated society, the Summit crosses socioeconomic and cultural lines and brings together vibrant perspectives that may have never been brought together in the same room. The Summit will allow its participants to think outside the box and take a long-term view in grappling with our legacies and the world’s global challenges.
Thus, from September 3-5 at University Settlement in SoHo, Summit participants – including a community organizer, university professors, faith leaders, a hip-hop wellness expert, a World Series of Poker player, government leaders, a former nuclear submarine officer, non-profit leaders, and others – will come together from across industries and ideologies to wrestle with today’s (and tomorrow’s) biggest challenges. In addition to University Settlement, the Summit has partnered with the National Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of New York City, and Acacia Unlimited to make the gathering a success.
The format of the Summit resembles TED talks, the Aspen Ideas festival, and a Presidential Cabinet meeting – combined. Each Summit participant gets 30 minutes to present and stimulate conversation on a topic related to their work and leadership. Every presentation must include audience participation and time for questions and answers, enabling the group to add to or push back on ideas, contemplate the cross-sector applicability of different concepts, and collaboratively engage in conversations around tough issues. As the ideas from the Summit percolate, participants continue their conversations beyond the weekend and carry them forward into their lives.
But the event seeks to inspire far more than its participants. By posting content from the Summit on its web, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, the Summit seeks to reach a broader audience. For more details and live updates, visit www.30summit.com.
Congratulations, you and some of your nonprofit friends have decided to start a chapter of YNPN. You made it through your first event, built a decent-sized web presence and have lots of support. What’s next? How do you know when it’s time to take the next step? Should your chapter step back?
Speaking from experience, when you are ready to go to the next level:
- People gladly come to your events
- People routinely offer to pay for membership
- You have the backing of major nonprofit leaders
- You have a core leadership team
- Private and Public sector organizations, including the media are paying attention
What does that next level look like? First, take a look at the YNPN chapter levels on the website. You may or may not fit through all the loops, but if you fit through a lot, then you’ve emerged into either a novice or affiliate chapter.
In addition, take a look around at other professional associations and nonprofits in the area that are well run. Those organizations are your best barometer of how the nonprofit sector in your city functions and also what types of events, fundraisers and information your community needs. They are also your sponsors, mentors and friends as you establish yourself in the community.
Finally, make sure that you have these things in order:
- Determine your legal structure. Decide if you are going to be a division of your local Jaycee, United Way, or other nonprofit organization or if you will pursue an independent 501c3 or LLC.
- Incorporate and maintain proper licenses to operate and manage money in your jurisdiction.
- If one exists, join your local nonprofit consortium or advisory group.
- Support other young professional, nonprofit and professional groups
- Be transparent about all leadership decisions, as well as bylaws and policies.
Last but not least, have fun! Being apart of the YNPN family has brought me many benefits and I hope it does the same for you.
... the happier we'll be, right? Because then your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends. Isn't that how the old tune goes?
In theory, word and deed, I support partnerships and collaborations; however, somewhere deep in my heart or in the very back of my mind, there is something that keeps me from drinking the cooperative Kool-Aid. I am not sure what it is, and I am certain I cannot be the only person who feels that way.
A story of an interesting and seemingly successful "coming together" in Columbus, Ohio has forced me to re-examine my position on sharing, which is really at the heart of partnerships and collaboration - sharing and trust.
The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts is an arts management organization that handles the back office operations for many arts organizations in the area. Its roster of clients is impressive, including the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, which is an artistic leader and had been a managerial nightmare. The recession hit the Orchestra particularly hard. Outsourcing its ticketing operations, fundraising and marketing to CAPA saved the Columbus Symphony Orchestra approximately $750,000. It seems like a mutually beneficial arrangement, does it not? CAPA gets a happy client and the Orchestra saves money and can invest its energy into its mission - "to share great music with over a quarter million people in central Ohio through concerts, radio broadcasts, and special programming."
The story of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and CAPA might inspire other nonprofit organizations to consider sharing and partnering, especially given the current economic climate. In fact, I used to be shared staff of two youth services organizations that shared office space, technological support and a few administrative positions, including mine.
Especially when it comes to something like "back office" expenses, the cost for a business (or other nonprofit organization) to do bookkeeping, marketing, advertising, graphic design and payroll for a number of organizations versus the cost for each organization to do it individually speaks for itself. For example, when public relations professional and CAPA employee Terrence Womble purchases ad space for his clients, he does so in bulk, getting a better rate.
In New York, I stumbled upon a great opportunity for area nonprofits to decrease their administrative costs with regard to direct mail, data and fulfillment - Back Office New York, an affiliate of The Doe Fund. If a nonprofit is struggling to fund its programs and can barely put the money together to send out an appeal, perhaps Back Office New York (another nonprofit) could help, and by using their services, more people are positively impacted than originally planned.
Across the country there are nonprofit incubator systems, spaces where nonprofits are located together to cut costs, and other methods for sharing, collaborating and partnering. In recent years, I have even seen organizations come together more often for events. For example an AIDS research benefit held at a museum would help both the research organization and the museum. The invite lists are merged, the red carpet is rolled out, the auction is expanded and the dancing goes until dawn!
The case for partnership is strong. We all know (and have said) the mantras: "Together Each Achieves More", "Teamwork makes the dream work" and so on and so forth. Even funders collaborate and encourage their grantees to do so as well. Partnership is not only efficient, it is also effective.
So why do I still hesitate? What is it about playing in the sandbox that makes me wonder if it's not really a sand trap?... Any other reluctant collaborators out there?
I do believe that partnerships are an integral ingredient to the recipe for success for the sector. I am just a bit skeptical of all the hands reaching out because they are attached to bodies that hold minds that come with their own agendas, and that can get tricky - in nonprofits, in families, in communities and in any other areas where interpersonal relations exist. However, I suppose the good outweighs the bad. Right?
What's that visualization about the difference between Heaven and Hell? That in Heaven and Hell people are sitting a banquet and everyone has these enormously long utensils. It's the same menu and same utensil length in Heaven as it is in Hell. The difference is that in Heaven, people feed each other while in Hell people grow frustrated with their hunger because they are only concerned with feeding themselves, an impossible feat given the resources.
I guess the more practice we get on helping one another now the better.
As we have worked to build our chapter in the Triad area of North Carolina (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and the surrounding communities), one thing we have not fallen short of is finding organizations to help us with our initiatives. Our challenge though is setting ourselves apart among these other young professional groups. We have at least three major active groups and all are helping promote the YNPN chapter.
Yet, due to a small number of active young professionals as a whole, many of our target group is already over-involved and/or may be jaded by the older groups. We are battling misconceptions of being an initiative of one group and another "lets go volunteer and do good things" group. People are also wondering why we need another young professionals group, based in part on those misconceptions. Another person told me of a failed attempt at a Triad YNPN chapter.
Yet, we are overcoming these issues. Here are ways we are building our chapter around those challenges:
- Speaking clearly about the YNPN mission and history: We emphasize that our group is a professional development and support group for young professionals who are paid employees and/or full-time volunteers for nonprofit organizations. We also mention our group is national and the other, bigger, cities it's been established in. People are then excited about their own network geared to them and also being a part of something that's national.
- Working with, not competing with, other young professional groups: If it were not for other professional organizations and the young professional groups, we would not have the traction and support we have right now. Also, it would probably be a membership of just me. Be clear that your YNPN chapter is a complement to other young professional groups and be open to co-sponsoring events and spreading the word about their initiatives. Also, it's worth noting to these organizations that as nonprofits, this is their professional organization. Be nice, be respectful and work to not step on their toes as well.
- Establishing clear communication channels: While YNPN National provides us with iModules for communication, it takes a while to get it set up properly. The young pros in our area kept asking us about our website, Facebook presence and email site, as well as being added to our listserv. We went ahead and established a Gmail account,a Twitter feed, a WordPress page and a Facebook group, which I just upgraded to an actual fan page. I try to communicate as much as possible through one of those channels, so we don't fade in the background.
So fellow emerging and novice chapters, are you experiencing similar challenges? Affiliates and older novice chapters, what are some success stories you can share?
Did you have one of those wristbands? They were popular. They came in different colors with "WWJD?" embedded on the surface. Perhaps you had a t-shirt with the same letters: "WWJD?" There were all types of paraphernalia: pens, hats, key chains. It seemed as if for a moment in recent history everyone was obsessed with finding an answer to the situational question "What would Jesus do?"
I never caught on to the wave of frenzy over the WWJD? gizmos and gadgets. But the concept - the idea that asking myself what someone else would do in a situation I was facing could help me make a better decision - is one I have bought into for years.
And so I submit this post as the first in a series: WWYNPD - What would young nonprofit professionals do? And for this inaugural post, I wonder how we have been able to address Founder's Syndrome.
Ahh, Founder's Syndrome. I must admit that until very recently, I only gave myself 2 options for dealing with Founder's Syndrome: I thought I could either leave and be appreciated for my awesomeness elsewhere OR I could wait quietly for the inevitable death of an aging population and then assume power. Either way, soon enough it would be my turn at the helm. I just had to bide my time and wait it out. Then it hit me: There has got to be a better way!
So how do we deal with this? Founder's Syndrome can lead to job dissatisfaction, low morale and employee burn out.
I've done a scan for case studies sharing successful methods for addressing and dealing with Founder's Syndrome in a nonprofit context from the perspective of staff who have experienced a transition of leadership. I haven't found too much, and so I am submitting these 3 Tips for Young Nonprofit Professionals who are affected by Founder's Syndrome.
1. Assess yourself. Rapper Ice Cube had a popular song with the lyrics "Check yourself before you wreck yourself." If only rap lyrics today shared such sage wisdom as they did a decade or so ago. Basically the lesson is to take an inventory of the role you are playing in your own destruction. The best way to approach any situation is with self-awareness. Along with that self-check, take into consideration your role and the dynamics of power in your organization. Here is a really tough question for some YNPs to answer: Is it Founder's Syndrome or am I over-eager to be promoted and recognized as a young professional in this organization?
2. Ask around. Chances are, young professionals were not with the organization when the founder was; however, there might be a co-worker, funder, program participant or board member who was. Ask how the organization has changed. Ask how the leadership has changed. Find out how change happens. Ask what could be improved. Find out more about the organization than the story told in annual reports and brochures. Conducting an informal 360-degree assessment of the organization and the founder will help uncover the capacity for change within the organization.
3. Be the change/solution. Some mid-level managers and organizational leaders express concern about the pressures of being an executive director. They are valid concerns! On the flip side, some founders see their potential predecessors as unable to do the work the way they did. They built it up. They know (or think they know) how it should be managed, and they do not see anyone else putting in the time and energy that they do. Help them by being a part of a new model of leadership. Engage in co-lead projects and find out interest in work groups. Most of all, ask for the founder's help when necessary. Be the change that you would like to see in your organization. It will empower you, encourage your colleagues and impress the founder.
A lot of the stress around Founder's Syndrome comes from emotions and feelings that we do not express or process appropriately. I would also suggest that YNPs who feel under-appreciated and unrewarded at their jobs look for leadership positions OUTSIDE the workplace. It might make you feel better, which will improve your overall quality of life, and it will improve your workday. It will also help you better understand some of the stress that your founder or CEO is facing on a daily basis. Make this the year you take on a project in your community or take on a leadership role in your local YNPN Chapter or on the YNPN National Board. (Shameless plug for forthcoming National Board applications. They are coming this summer and will be due in the fall!)
Lest I forget the young empowered Executive Directors who have big founders' shoes to fill. Just because the founder is no longer in office (or a longtime ED or CEO, for that matter), does not mean the symptoms of the syndrome vanish. WWYNPD when they have leadership under the shadow of former leaders? Also there are YNPs among us who are founders of organizations themselves.
How do cure Founder's Syndrome once and for all?
I think an answer to that question will be answered in our lifetime, so WWYNPD?