Save the Date: NON-CON 2016

Our inaugural NON-CON in 2015 brought 100 attendees together — using improv, slam poetry and mind-mapping illustration, among other innovative sessions — to explore nonprofit management through the lens of art at the Des Moines Social Club.

This year, we’re back with a theme that’s oh-so-caucustime-in-Iowa: Advocacy!


SAVE THE DATE: NON-CON 2016 is Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 

NON-CON 2016 will run from Noon-4:30 p.m. on Jan 15, 2016 at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.

The second annual YNPN Des Moines “NON-CON” is an opportunity for professionals at various stages in their careers to explore advocacy and storytelling as skills that relate to work in mission-driven organizations — especially in an election year. The event will combine a keynote from Washington, D.C.-based Bolder Advocacy, and workshops with local and national experts.

Like last year, this isn’t your typical conference, with PowerPoint-filled sessions and pontificating panels. You’ll be actively engaged in conversations and activities. We hope to see you there!

If your organization is interested in sponsoring the event, contact for details 

Discussion Group Recap: From Event Participant to Dedicated Donor

Guest post by Brianne Sanchez, Community Relations Manager at Des Moines University and founding YNPN Des Moines co-chair.

YNPN_7-9-2015_3.jpgCongratulations! Your event was sold-out, the food on point and the fundraising goal for the night was met. Kick off your shoes and savor the moment for a minute. But, let’s be honest, you’re probably already asking yourself ‘How do I get all of those smiling people in the event’s photo gallery* to make the leap from partygoers to dedicated patrons?’

First — you’re not alone! There’s a delicate balance between hosting a buzzed-about event and one with a program so long it becomes a snooze-fest, and all development professionals try to walk it with care.YNPN_7-9-2015_6.jpg

Elaine Appleby of the Charitable Giving Resource Center joined us to provide ideas and examples as part of our July discussion group “From Event Participant to Dedicated Donor.”

The essence of her message was encapsulated in a handout from event360:A fundraising event is not an end in and of itself.

It’s easy to breathlessly move from planning mode of your walk to planning mode of your gala to planning mode of your luncheon, but if you truly want to cultivate attendees, you have to stop seeing them as simply seat-fillers and put in the effort to engage them more deeply. This engagement can take the form of pre and post-event touches. A few thoughts shared by discussion group attendees.

If the Des Moines Playhouse hosts a rollicking Hollywood Halloween event, it might not make sense to stop the fun and drone on about the impact donors dollars have on the mission of the organization. But, could they leverage the Facebook event to not only prime attendees for auction items, but to share a behind-the-scenes video tour, or testimonial from a well-known patron?

The Iowa chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation leverages QTego technology for a text-to-give campaign. Because that technology captures the phone numbers of all of their donors, the staff follows up with around 900 personal thank-you calls.

Many events are centered around celebrating community leaders, and attendees are there to support their friends. The Iowa International Center Passport to Prosperity is one such event. It would be a missed opportunity to let so many potential supporters leave without a sense of the organization’s overall mission, but the message might not sink in from a simple place card. If you know you might have a few open seats at tables of 10, what about inviting some of your super volunteers the the event and having them fill in. You’ll likely get some organic conversation started about what the mission means to them, without putting your ED at the podium for a 20-minute speech. 

Appleby’s handout also included a sample engagement plan for event donors who fall into the major gift cultivation strategy:


Source: Download the entire event360 whitepaper here.

In my small group, we talked about the importance of not bombarding YPs with follow-up mailings, but engaging them to help on planning committees during a time in their life where they might be exploring which causes to invest in more deeply as their paychecks grow!


*p.s. Don’t forget to submit your gala pics to DSM magazine!

Afraid to Ask: Becoming a Public Speaking Pro

Guest post by Chantelle Mathany, YNPN Social Committee Co-chair and Development & Communications Specialist with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Iowa Chapter

I’ll be the first one to admit I am not the greatest at public speaking, so I was eager to attend our quarterly Afraid to Ask series that focused on the subject. This installment featured Julie Mahlstedt, MS, Manager of Design and Development at Nationwide Insurance. Before her current role, Julie developed her public speaking “pro” status at Tero International, a company that provides training programs and coaching services to maximize effectiveness and a professional approach to skill development. She presented practical tips for face-to-face communication that can help effectively communicate your brand message.

7-1-Dara.jpg 7-1-Group2.jpg 7-1-Group4.jpg

One of the key points Julie covered was the importance of eye contact. How many of you were told to look at the crowd or stare at the third eye on someone’s forehead? News flash: we can see you do that and we’re judging you. Sorry, it’s true – don’t do it! Look at one person at a time, then finish and look to the next – by this you’re also making the audience feel included and special. Another useful fact Julie shared is the person with the highest level of eye contact in a room is received as the most credible. Have a meeting where you’re all sitting down? Put a high flip chart on the wall so you can stand up and lead your message.

The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives. -Lilly Walters

Some more tips Julie shared:

  1. Look for symmetry in your posture and gestures – stand up straight!
  2. Put nervous energy into your gestures and content or “walk it off” beforehand.
  3. If it’s brand new information, keep it short and leave time for questions and answers to lead the audience from passive to active. And always have a question loaded and ready to lead questions (no one wants to be the first to ask).
  4. Aggressive question? Affirm the questioner vs. the question with something like, “I appreciate you asking, thanks for bringing it up.” Don’t join their adrenaline zone.
  5. Remember primacy and recency. Wrap up with “in closing” or “in conclusion” and address your main objective. What’s your ask? What’s their last thought going to be? Make it impactful!


And don’t forget your elevator speech!! Who are you and what is your job title? How are you positively impacting your organization? What would you like to share about this organization? And finally, what makes you proud about working for _____? (mission/common purpose). Have this ready and you’ve set yourself miles ahead of those who haven’t crafted theirs.

Three things I learned from leading YNPN Des Moines


By Brianne Sanchez, YNPN Des Moines founding co-chair and Community Relations Manager at Des Moines University 

This is my last official week as co-chair of YNPN Des Moines, an organization I helped get off the ground in 2012. It’s exciting to see new leaders take office, but I’ll admit that “handing over the keys” is bittersweet. I’ve worked on YNPN through graduate school, the birth of my first child, a job change and half of my second pregnancy. It’s been my opportunity to flex tiny entrepreneurial wings without too much personal risk. It would be selfish of me to stay too long, when I think of all YNPN has done for me, and of the amazing leaders who are on deck. 

I truly feel that the lessons learned and connections I made while founding our group with a bunch of smart, dedicated people have given me a deeper capacity for and understanding of success. These days, success, to me, is walking away from an experience feeling not only that I contributed my skills or thoughts in a meaningful way, but that I met people who challenged me to look more deeply or differently at an issue, or introduced me to something or someone new/interesting.

Our successes as a group have been many. We’ve hosted events of all sizes that bring people together on a personal and professional level. We have a balance sheet that’s in the black, a following that appreciates our efforts and leaders who’ve leveraged their experience with this group to take their careers to the next level. We’ve made friends, too. We’ve provided space for people to be vulnerable, curious, ambitious and grow together.

Here are three key takeaways from working on YNPN for the past 3+ years:

1. Set a date, and tell people about it. How do you turn ideas into action? Create a deadline and accountability. Once you know your launch date, you can work backwards and more easily delegate tasks. Maybe it’s the former journalist in me, but nothing lights a fire like knowing people are expecting a finished product on a certain date. I’ve also found that the more people I tell about a plan, the more likely I am to get something done. So go ahead, create that Facebook event. Book a venue, pull together the basics and then hustle like hell to figure out the rest by the time everyone shows up.

2. Never underestimate the power of clear, consistent communication in starting a movement. One of the first things an organization must do is find its voice. I describe the voice of YNPN Des Moines as informal, yet informative. Every group will likely have a “fake it ’till you make it” phase, and sounding like you have a cohesive plan is step #1 to coming up with one. (HA!) When we launched our group, it was little more than a handful of friends meeting for coffee. Our communications platforms changed that. We had a clear message, and communicated with constituents on a consistent basis, through social mesia and a monthly e-newsletter that now boasts more than 500 subscribers and open rates twice the industry average. On the other hand, when working with a big volunteer board, making sure you double check the clarity of a message can help minimize reply-all nightmares. Yeesh. Run a draft by your co-chair and make sure everything makes sense, if possible.

3. Open yourself to peer mentorship. When we started YNPN, we discussed several options for structuring (fiscal sponsorship, etc.) and decided to set out with a model that would give us the greatest flexibility to grown on our own terms. We knew we had the strength of peer organizations across the national YNPN Network, but we also had mentors and champions within our own community who could lend expertise. Our “Afraid to Ask” series was modeled on the idea that you probably aren’t an expert in everything, but you have friends who are willing to show you the ropes or answer questions you might hesitate to bring up to your boss. Whether you’re grabbing coffee or slinging back a few cold ones while you talk, candid conversations about how the sausage gets made within different organizations can be enlightening, and lead to deeper friendships that will help you grow.

P.S. Maybe it’s the service-learning geek in me, but I do think that at times of transition, reflection is a critical step. The new leadership has vowed to change the passwords on me when they take charge (eep!) but I may continue to contribute a guest post here and there, and you can also find writing me at my personal blog,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve!

Need a fitness goal? Inspiration? Register for a Nonprofit Walk/Run/Zumbathon, etc!

As part of our May 2015 discussion group, YNPs talked about the need to set fitness goals and train around them. If you’re going to start a Couch to 5K program, why not sign up for a race that benefits one of your favorite organizations? Need motivation to get out on two wheels? Register for a charity ride. Mixing fitness and fundraising is a win-win in the nonprofit world!


Upcoming fitness fun shared by YNPN Des Moines Members:

American Diabetes Association Central Iowa Tour de Cure
Saturday, June 6: 25, 50 or 75-mile rides departing from theYMCA Healthy Living Center
More information

NOCC Iowa Chapter’s 8th Annual Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer®
Saturday, June 13, 2015 Raccoon River Park
More information

Alzheimer’s Association: Greater Iowa Chapter
Thurs, June 18 – “Walking Around Town” – Staff and volunteers will be meeting at our office in WDM and walking around town in purple 8am-5pm. Join us for 
a portion of the day to help raise awareness and get some exercise!
Fri, June 19, 5:30-7pm – Zumba Party @ Aspen Athletic Club on Hickman Rd – Wear purple and come Zumba! $10 ticket will benefit our org.
Sun, June 21, 9-10am – Yoga on the Lawn @ WDM City Hall North Lawn – Wear your purple and enjoy free beginner-level yoga! If rain, will take place inside City Hall.
Questions about any? Contact Melissa at 515.440.2722 

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa
Superheroes bike rides are June 20 and 27. Learn more here.

Polk County 4-H
Walk, jog or run the Polk County Clover Dash 5K at the Polk County Fair this July 25 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Discussion Group Recap: Workplace Wellness


Our May 2015 discussion group centered around the topic: How can smaller non-profits can manage a wellness program?

Attendees at the event discussed several tactics their organizations utilize:

One YNP created a “Wellness Wednesday” calendar invite for all of her colleagues that rallies the team for a group walk and communal lunch. Another organization hosts a “Dump your Plump” team weight loss challenge that culminates with participants bringing canned goods equivalent to pounds dropped for donation to the food bank. Another staff hosts quarterly lunch & learns around wellness topics.

Think about it:
Does your organization value wellness? 
Does your organization have a formal wellness program? Is it well utilized? 
What wellness-related issues do you think need to be addressed? 
What partnerships does your organization have that could be leveraged for a wellness program? 
What types of programs do you think would work for you?
What are the steps to building a program?
1. Gaining Support
a. What values does your employer hold that would align with a wellness program?
b. What stakeholders do you need on your side?

2. Forming a Wellness Team
a. What roles or departments should be involved?

3. Assessing needs and interests
a. What data do you need to collect internally?
b. What resources can you use to collect data on community-wide needs?

4. Develop an annual work plan
a. What is your mission?
b. What level of resources will be committed to the program?
c. How will you evaluate the program?

Free Resource:


Visit the “Get Active” page of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, which hosts a number of resources including Healthy Iowa Worksites: A Collection of Active & Eating Smart and Tobacco Free Tools for Building Your Worksite Wellness Program.

Better Together Because of You!

We are so incredibly honored that YNPN Des Moines was selected to receive the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines “Better Together” award for building social capital at today’s annual celebration luncheon:

Social capital is defined as connections among diverse people or groups, based on trust, that enhance cooperation for mutual benefit. Those who build social capital possess a unique set of skills and attitudes that enable them to collaborate effectively, make connections between diverse sectors, bridge differences and nurture social networks to make a difference.

Building social capital takes two forms, bonding or bridging. Bonding social capital builds relationships and networks among people who are like each other. Bridging social capital builds relationships and networks among people who are unlike each other. Both are important and can be channeled to make positive impact in communities and bring people together around community needs, issues and opportunities.


Although only a few of us were on stage to get a photo with the big ($2,500!) check, it’s a shared award with anyone who has shared their thoughts at a discussion group, connected at a Brew Gooders, asked a question at a professional development event, authored a guest blog post — you get the picture! It’s because of our members that we’re able to bring people together.

This week, looking through the first batch of 2015 survey responses (you can still take it here!), we realized what this group has meant and done for so many people. Here are a few excerpted responses:








Insider View at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Conference

Guest post by Ryan Crane, Director of Development at Primary Health Care, Inc.

RyanCrane.jpgGame-changing fundraisers, networking professionals, gifted writers and executive directors all presented insights and advice at the 2015 Mid America Conference on Fundraising May 4 & 5 at the Marriott in downtown Des Moines.

Nearly 100 Midwesterners who work in the Development field — representing almost as many nonprofits– descended on Des Moines to learn best practices and trade secrets. Breakout sessions on how to ask for major gifts and how to begin a planned giving program at your nonprofit were particularly well-attended, reflecting trends in Development that focus on both those areas.

Direct mail expert Tom Ahern also pointed out, though, that most donors are in their 60s or 70s, and direct mail is still an effective medium with which to reach them.

Between sessions and after each day, participants hustled to ask each other about pitfalls and frequent stumbling blocks, including how to engage millennials and how to create dynamic events.

AFPMonopoly.jpgMonday’s lunch keynote, Marcy Heim, empowered and encouraged participants to brag on themselves a little, and to take part in a form of self-help with a song called “People Love to Give Me Money.”

The closing keynote, Adam Carroll, is a native Iowan who gave a rousing course in crash-networking, demonstrating to the crowd that a person is rarely more than one or two degrees of social separation from achieving their goals and dreams. “Comfortably step outside your comfort zone,” he urged participants.

Overall, the quality of the conference was top-notch, and participants left buzzing with new ideas, lots of energy, and a catchy jingle about how people love to give them money.

As a result of attending this conference, I am re-examining our direct mail approach, tweaking our Community (annual) Report, applying some of the new insights I learned to one of our YP events, and I am doubling down on efforts to engage my board and my Leadership team in planned giving.

Help the World “Explore Des Moines”

Guest post by Amy Yost, Director of Development and Marketing, Iowa International Center

 AmyYost.jpgI’ll never forget my first experience meeting several of our international professional visitors, just days after starting my job with the Iowa International Center. Our organization had just welcomed nine journalists from countries around the Middle East to Des Moines, to discuss U.S. press and foreign policy with local leaders. Our volunteers and staff hosted a potluck to welcome and engage them in some delicious citizen diplomacy. It was amazing. Here’s a group shot from the event:



 I’m not in this picture because I got to stand back and watch my 7-year old, who insisted he be the one to take the group photo. Witnessing him share lunch and conversation with these wonderful new friends from the other side of the world quickly made up for any parental frustration.

Annually, our organization hosts 130+ international delegates visiting Iowa on a professional exchange. The interactions provide an eye-opening experience in citizen diplomacy without the price tag of an international plane ticket.

I feel my personal interaction as a young(ish) nonprofit professional provides some of our international visitors with a unique perspective on the United States. While talking with recent guests from Kazakhstan, I was asked why companies and organizations give so much back to the community through volunteer hours and donations – through cooperative efforts to build houses for the less fortunate, or initiatives to include disabled individuals in the workforce. It dawned on me that philanthropy as we know it can truly be a “foreign” concept outside the U.S. The world actually has much to learn from central Iowans – specifically from those who keep our non-profit community running. Enter: YOU.

As a non-profit professional, you might not be able to afford twice-a-year transcontinental trips. One way to satisfy your wanderlust might be serving as an Explore Des Moines volunteer. You will welcome international visitors, show off our community and share your life and work with them – with no long-term or overnight hosting commitment. Think of it as a night out with friends from around the globe that you just haven’t met yet.

Explore Des Moines volunteers work with our staff on details before planning dinner and an outing. A friendly, flexible attitude and access to transportation are the simple qualifications. Explore Des Moines volunteer outings with visitors generally last 2 to 3 hours, and opportunities are available year-round. More information, including a volunteer application Form, can be found online here.

Through Explore Des Moines, you’ll help build a positive perception of Iowa on a global scale, and may even have the chance to share knowledge to encourage community-building through philanthropy in another part of the world. I promise you’ll come away feeling more open-minded and inspired about how just how small the world can be, as well as more aware of the awesomeness of your work in our community, too.

Veridian Credit Union is recognizing ‘Volunteers Inspiring Progress’


Guest post by Norah Carroll, Digital Marketing Strategist at Veridian Credit Union

NorahCarroll.pngAs a not-for-profit, Veridian Credit Union has a heart for people who give back. Our credit union is owned by our members, and we’re committed to enriching the communities our members call home. We’re excited to open our newest Des Moines-area branch, located at the corner of Ingersoll and MLK, this June. And to celebrate, we want to shine a light on the unsung heroes who are making our community a better place.

Through May 8, we’re inviting non-profits in the Des Moines area to nominate their most dedicated volunteers for the chance to be recognized as a “Volunteer Inspiring Progress,” or VIP, in one of three categories: inclusioninnovation andfinancial literacy. From these nominees, we’ll select three volunteers to honor as VIPs – volunteers who share our vision for the future and who are making our community a better place.

So, what does it mean if your organization’s volunteer is selected as a VIP? To show our support for the work these VIPs are doing,Veridian will donate $1,000 to each non-profit whose volunteer is selected. And, each VIP will also receive a well-deserved gift and recognition at our branch opening event this summer.

To nominate the “best of the best” in your organization, or to find out more about Volunteers Inspiring Progress, We can’t wait to share the stories of our community’s most inspiring volunteers.

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