LinkedIn Recap

By Josh Ingalls


I had the opportunity to discuss LinkedIn with a group of YNPN members the other day and wanted to share the insights I gained from this experience.  First off, the group was great!  Incredibly smart people, working in a variety of different roles, and all were extremely personable.  What a great group representing Iowa and young professionals interested in the non-profit world.  If you have a chance to attend one of these events I would strongly encourage you to take it.


As for the topic of the night, LinkedIn, I think the most important insight we discussed was related to how you need to think about this social network in a significantly different way than the other major players in the space.  For example, Facebook is probably comprised of your offline relationships that you have brought online.  Your friends and family likely make up most of your connections, and you use Facebook to interact with them.  Twitter is different in that you actually create an online connection with those you don’t interact with directly offline.  You might follow celebrities, thought leaders, athletes, news organizations or companies.  So the connections take on a different flavor, but once again you use that medium to interact with them.

LinkedIn is different.  Your connections primarily come from your professional relationships, many of which already have a preferred method of communication outside of the social network.  So, even if you connect with your co-workers, you will not use LinkedIn to send them a message because you have their direct email or phone number.  That seems to be the difference that throws a lot of people off.  They go through the trouble of creating a profile and connecting with people, only to say, “Now what?”

But there is a really great benefit that LinkedIn provides once you have taken these steps.  By connecting with your professional network, you gain access to their networks.  That means your 100 connections turns into 10,000 2nd degree connections and 1,000,000 3rd degree connections.  That geometric growth in your professional network is incredibly powerful when it comes time to reach out for a variety of reasons.  If you are looking for a job, preparing for an interview, searching for talent, or just have a question for an SME, that larger network of professionals can help you out.  That is the power of LinkedIn and why it is worth it to invest energy in building a great profile and connecting with your network.

Once we talked through this idea, the other topics were important but not quite as transcendent.  We discussed how companies are using LinkedIn as a primary method of finding talent for hard to fill roles, and I shared success stories of how The Principal has done so.  We also talked about how to create a great profile and discussed specific examples of how attendees can use this medium to address some of the challenges they are currently facing.

All in all, it was a very interesting and engaging conversation with a great group of people.  Are you running into challenges using LinkedIn or struggling to get started?  Need help thinking through strategies to make it work for you?  Leave your comments or questions and lets discuss as a group.

Reflections on Community Engagement from YNPN’s June Discussion

By Aubrey Alvarez, Executive Director of Eat Greater Des Moines


The YNPN Discussion Group with the topic of Community Engagement through Partnerships was my first experience with the YNPN group – and it was great! In my new role with Eat Greater Des Moines, I’m working to build successful connections among individuals, organizations and groups impacting our food system – the intended result of these collaborations being increased access to healthy food for all in Central Iowa with a stronger economy. 

On June 13, Leisha Barcus, VP of Community Engagement with the Science Center of Iowa, shared her experience building successful partnerships. After reflecting (really, procrastinating on writing my first blog), I’ve narrowed down what was shared into three main points:

  1. Be strategic about who you approach for partnerships. Don’t just throw darts at a wall and hope it works. While there is value in spreading the word and getting more people working together to accomplish a goal, before you friend every organization in Central Iowa on Facebook and schedule tons of meetings, think about the potential result of the collaboration. What is the mission of the organization you are looking to collaborate with? If you work together, what benefits will each of you experience? Ultimately, how can you help them accomplish their goals without adding more work?

    On the other side, if you are approached regarding a collaboration, keep in mind that it might not be a fit now but it could be a great match in 3, 6, or 12 months. Just because something doesn’t work now doesn’t mean it couldn’t work in the future. 

  2. Take a second look at those organizations you may have considered competitors. Leisha shared an example of a recent partnership among the Science Center of Iowa, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and the World Food Prize. All collaborated to host Earth Day events at their locations while linking and promoting collaboratively. Each organization could have organized a separate event and “competed” for the attention of potential attendees and/or sponsors. Instead, by working together they were able to promote through their channels and increase their reach. As a consumer, isn’t it nice when everyone plays nicely in the sandbox?! 

  3. Bring something to the table. Just like any good potluck, bring something to the table. And think broadly! Things your organization does regularly could be a challenge for another organization. Do you have skills with social marketing? A great base of volunteers? Purchasing relationships?

    An example close to me was Eat Greater Des Moines’ relationship with RecycleMe Iowa and Central Iowa Shelter and Services (CISS). RecycleMe Iowa is a doorstep recycling service that caters to apartments, condos and small businesses. They also coordinate or consult regarding zero waste indoor and outdoor events. CISS’ mission is to provide free shelter and meals to homeless adults regardless of physical or emotional conditions, and to facilitate their move toward self-sufficiency. On the surface, why would our small, new non-profit with a focus on food work with a for-profit recycling business and well-established local non-profit? During discussions, we realized we have a shared goal – rescuing food from landfills.

    If we work together with restaurants, catering companies and other organizations that have events with food (and probably leftovers) we can accomplish all of our goals. RecycleMe Iowa has relationships within the restaurant and catering industry – those with extra food. Eat Greater Des Moines has relationships with local shelters, like CISS. CISS staff and volunteers will pick up and transport any leftover food; all they need is a call!

    Through our collaboration, we are hoping to expand upon the great work already happening by outlining a process for anyone wanting to be involved. Each of us brings something to the table, helping each of us have a bigger impact. 

A unintended benefit of my procrastination, besides the deal I made with myself that I could get a pedicure if I used the time to write, was this article by Beth Kanter that came across my phone. From the short review, “Give and Take” by Adam Grant will be the audio book for my road trip to Nashville.

Ultimately, there are opportunities all around for collaborations but they take work. No matter your field of work, surrounding yourself with others from different organizations or roles allows growth for all.  

Comedian Amy Poehler highlights this when she reminded us of the following: “As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

YNPN Super Swag Social


RSVP to the Facebook event

What are non-profit organizations notorious for?? Asking for money.
Ok, yes, but what else?? Low budgets.
*Dramatic Sigh* Ok, yes, but there’s something else….. SWAG!

YES, SWAG! We all have it. If you are a non-profit professional you know how to hawk it and even sometimes have to bribe people with it.

If you have ever volunteered, you probably have an XXL t-shirt (because for some reason that’s the only size non-profit shirts come in).

So gather up your super sweet swag and come show it off! Think t-shirts, hats, lanyards, wristbands, buttons, waterbottles, paper fans, hand sanitizer, pens, (What else?)

Superlatives and eternal glory for:

  • Best vintage swag
  • Most swag worn at once (30 pieces of flair anyone?)
  • Most unique swag
  • Craziest swag

Have extra swag you want to share? Bring it for the Swag Swap! (YNPN would like to remind participants to always swag swap responsibly).

If you don’t have swag (yeah right) come anyway, maybe you’ll get lucky and someone will have extra.

When: Thursday, May 30 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 

Where: 515 Brewing Co.

Lessons from Cycling Cross-Country

By Emily Boyd, AmeriCorps Member at Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines

I made the best and also the worst decision of my life last summer: to bicycle across America.

Knowing graduation was upon me back in December of 2011, I wanted to participate in one grand adventure before this real-world thing became a reality. So, I signed up to bike from San Diego to Myrtle Beach so people in Kenya could have access to clean water and HIV/AIDS treatment.

I could have never prepared myself physically enough to climb thousands of feet or mentally to bike 80 miles a day without completely losing my mind. I also never would have expected the clarity that comes from just pedaling for hours on end or the fabulous relationships that gave me transformational perspectives.


The first day of June, I met eight individuals in San Diego and from there we pedaled our way across the southern part of the country and spoke at many water stops and any other opportunity we had available in order to meet our goal of raising $40,000. Besides learning how to dodge semis when crazy dogs were chasing me on the freeway, I learned professional skills I use to this day in my career:

You can’t control people. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I really came to terms with letting people be who they are without it affecting me. If it was affecting me, I spoke up. I realized it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Make a simple ask. I love Blood:Water Mission‘s statement that $1 can give one person in Africa clean water for a year. It’s specific, you know how the money affects a life and most people have that to give. What does a $5 donation do for your organization? Even if people can’t give a lot, they’ll feel more compelled to give when it’s specific and easy to understand.

Just do it. Far too often, people are unsure if their ideas should be voiced or if they should make the bold decision to apply for a position that’s “out of their league.” The fear of making decisions can be crippling at times, but can you imagine wondering “what if” years down the road?

If you find that a little adventure is just what you need to develop yourself more, check out Venture Expeditions, as they host many different trips annually that benefit different nonprofits across the nation. Biking worked out perfectly as an AmeriCorps position opened up at Rebuilding Together days after the tour ended. You can currently find me helping coordinate volunteer groups with home repair projects in the community and trying to find ways to make Des Moines a better place to live.

Ride on.


Resource Sharing, YNPN Style

By Sarah Welch, co-chair, professional development committee

My interest in YNPN began when I took a non-profit job that requires more than I know. As communications director for Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, I’m not only writing stories and managing social media, which I’ve handled before, but also delving into new territory with volunteer recruitment, designing materials and asking for donations.

I felt reassured that I wasn’t out of my league when at YNPN’s first “resource sharing” themed discussion group, someone asked about graphic design support and half the room raised their hand saying they needed help as well. But then, as we put our heads together to come up with ideas of where to turn to for support, I realized that we may not be experts at everything, but non-profit professionals sure are resourceful. And we have a lot to learn from each other.


From the two resource sharing discussions we hosted in April and May, I’ve compiled a list of tips, websites and tools shared by topic. I cannot vouch for everything here, but I hope it’s a good starting point if you, like me, are seeking advice in a wide range of areas. Thank you to those who attended these discussions and were willing to share and ask questions.

Graphic Design

  • Apply for programs like Design Assign with the Iowa chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Artists or a Footprint grant from Allegra; many local marketing firms are generous with pro bono or reduced-rate services for non-profits
  • lets you make your own posters from templates
  • Edit photos and make collages with sites like and
  •, a microvolutneering site, could connect you with a volunteer designer
  • lets you pitch ideas to freelance designers

Social media

  • Diosa Communications which runs offers tips and cheap, in-depth webinars on how to use different social media tools as a nonprofit


  • Ruby Van Meter and Easter Seals take requests for volunteers
  • Many large companies want to partner for larger volunteer projects
  • YPC’s charitable committee features a non-profit of the month and promotes other non-profits looking for volunteers

Blogs to follow

Accounting education

  • Coursera offers free classes from major universities including accounting classes
  • DMACC and Des Moines Public Schools have community education courses


Let’s keep this discussion going. Share your questions or most valuable resources on our LinkedIn page or leave your comments here.

YNPN National Resource: Developing Human Capital

One of the perks of being part of a national network is having access to great professional development opportunities, like this two-part webinar on Developing Human Capital for Chapter success.

This webinar provides ideas about talent development that apply not only what we’re doing engaging volunteers to drive our group, but could also apply to the organizations you work in professionally or on boards.

Developing Human Capital for Chapter Success: Part 1 (Introductions run through the 7 minute mark)

(Buzzwords you’ll hear: Capacity building, assessments, burnout, sustainability, collective action, creating a talent pipeline, lifecycle of engagement, recognition etc.)

Developing Human Capital for Chapter Success: Part 2 (Picks up around the 5:30 point)

This second session is more specifically targeted to developing YNPN chapters with success stories from various chapters.

Des Moines Capital Crossroads strategic vision/plan involves developing human capital, and we’re excited to contribute toward that goal in the nonprofit sector!

Nonprofit Careers Panel April 9, 2013 @ Drake University

What made you consider a career in nonprofits? Want to share your love of nonprofit work with current college students?

YNPN Des Moines members and Drake students from across disciplines are invited to a networking event and panel discussion. Panelists will share their stories of joining the nonprofit sector and offer advice on not only landing a nonprofit career, but thriving in one. Attendees will have the opportunity to network one-on-one with local nonprofit professionals and students and ask questions during a panel session.

YNPN members hold positions in a variety of organizations across the metro, in roles that range from direct work with at-risk youth to accounting and marketing. Light refreshments will be provided by the Drake Service Learning Office. Maybe you’ll find your next rockstar intern, volunteer or a potential hire!

The event will take place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9 at the Cowles Library Reading Room on the Drake Campus. The first half of the evening will be one-on-one networking and during the second half, we’ll talk with the panel.

Panelists include:

  • Libby Crimmings, ONE- Regional Field Director for Midwest
  • Chantelle Mathany, Development & Communications Coordinator at Alzheimer’s Association
  • Chad Driscoll, Program Officer at Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service (which is hiring Iowa AmeriCorps VISTAs for 2013)
  • Allyse Vander Plaats, Youth Development Specialist at Children and Families of Iowa
  • John Mark Feilmeyer, Executive Director at Iowa Arts in Education
  • Jack Reed, Development Director at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa

Learn more about YNPN Des Moines by visiting our Facebook page or by following us on Twitter!

Dress code: Business casual is great, but jeans are also just fine! Wear what you’d wear to work.

Guest Post: Emily Shields on the Nonprofit Professional Identity

This guest post by Emily Shields, Executive Director of Iowa Campus Compact, is a follow-up to our March discussion group topic: The Nonprofit Identity.


I was excited to join in the latest YNPN Des Moines discussion group on nonprofit identity because it is something I have thought a lot about recently. I am fairly new to the nonprofit sector, having come into my current position nearly two years ago. I have, however, worked primarily in government and politics, which have many similarities. I have gotten to know many people who run nonprofits, manage volunteers and have other roles in our field. They are smart, ambitious, hard working and often humble to a fault.

In my experience, the view most have of a non-profit professional is someone who doesn’t make any money, is always overwhelmed, is completely altruistic and only working to further a specific cause and couldn’t “hack it” in the private sector. Entrepreneurs in business are courted, favored and often glorified in media and by economic development policies, while “social entrepreneurs” who see a social need and respond with a non-profit business are overlooked and unsupported.

We can blame the values of a larger society that pays basketball players vastly more than teachers, but we need to take responsibility too. Non-profit professionals first must see themselves as serious professionals deserving of higher salaries and greater recognition. Non-profit work is hard. It often means long hours and high-pressure situations. Most non-profit professionals I know are responsible for at least three roles that typically each have their own person in private industry. They have to be flexible, capable of multi-tasking and fight for their existence every day.

Others have coined a term I think aptly describes the unique leadership abilities of many non-profit leaders: “humbition.” This blend of humility and ambition can lead to great success. We need to capture our unique ability to lead today’s workforce toward solutions to our world’s biggest challenges.

As the next generation of non-profit leaders, we need to be more conscious of the public face we give our sector. We must confidently tout our accomplishments and negotiate with our leaders and boards for compensation that reflects the work being accomplished. While most of us have altruistic and intrinsic motivations for our work, we also have ambitions for our careers and goals for our lives and families. We need to be more purposeful and explicit in our efforts to achieve these goals and work together to change the perception of our industry.

Have You Seen This TED Talk on Charity?

Thanks to our friends at TEDxDesMoines for linking us to this recent talk:

TED says: Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let’s change the way we think about changing the world.

Thoughts? Share them in the comments!

Surprised by Des Moines

Des Moines has taught me an invaluable lesson since arriving here from Minneapolis less than one year ago: the importance of being open to surprises.

I never imagined myself living in Des Moines. In fact, I never really thought of the city in one way or the other. However, when my wife and I found out we were expecting, it became painfully obvious we had changes to make. At the time, she was running a popular vintage store in a hip area of town. I was busy doing online marketing at a large non-profit and desperately trying to figure out how to keep that job while continuing work on a media philosophy Ph.D I was pursuing in Switzerland. Life was crazy.

That’s when Des Moines came into the picture. By some strange fate, the vast majority of my wife’s family ended up residing here. Considering the difficulty we were having at the time handling our two cats, we definitely knew we would need help raising our child. We also knew we probably couldn’t afford a decent place for our child to live in Minneapolis (our neighbors at the time were a different kind of Latin King than the one famous here in Des Moines). When we made our decision to join her family, our friends and co-workers looked at us like we had lost our minds. “You’re going to Des Moines? To live? Really?” So it was with a good amount of trepidation that we bid them farewell and headed southward.

And so this city began teaching us its lesson. I remember our first time in the East Village and our surprise at all the amazing shops and restaurants. Or the truly “entirely unexpected” afternoon at the Des Moines Art Center. Or grinning ear to ear as we carried home a bag full of surprisingly delicious Iowa cheeses and meats from the Cheese Shop. Or how warmly our neighbors and new-found friends have welcomed us here. More universally, I can also attest to surprise at how all-consuming, yet wonderful, being a parent is. As for what this city has in store next, we’re now open to it.

 Speaking of surprises, one of the most pleasant ones in Des Moines is the Lunch Unplugged concert series. Smack-dab in the middle of a hectic work day, you can pull yourself away from your computer, let your eyes adjust to sunlight for a few minutes, and take a brisk walk (or drive) to the stunning Temple Theater. There you will enjoy world-class performances featuring everything from opera to bluegrass. Tell us about some of the ways Des Moines has surprised you and you’ll be surprised with a free ticket to any Lunch Unplugged concert (for the first five commenters), courtesy of my employer and presenting sponsor, Mercy College of Health Sciences.


 Michael Sapiro is the Online Marketing Specialist at Mercy College of Health Sciences and occasional consultant for non-profits and small businesses. He lives with his wife, daughter, and two cats in the surprisingly charming Waveland Park neighborhood. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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