Design Assign Pairs Creatives with Non-Profits

Working in the non-profit sector, we all know that balancing a budget can be a difficult task, and marketing is often an area where organizations are stretched. Even if you’re not a communications professional, you might be called upon to whip up a program flyer or  beg a friend to design your gala invite. AIGA Iowa’s Design Assign to the rescue!


Design Assign is part of the national AIGA Design for Good initiative. Design Assign volunteers work pro-bono to create projects that leave meaningful impact on non-profitorganizations.The program may be just what your non-profit needs to revamp a logo, create a new brochure or redesign a website.

Now in its fourth year, Design Assign pairs non-profits in the greater Des Moines area with local designers, web developers, photographers, writers and other creative professionals. Non-profits submit project requests, and creative professionals are assigned to a project. Once non-profits and creatives have been paired up in teams, a kick-off workshop is held. Teams meet in person and discuss the project, which they then work on through the summer to complete. Design Assign concludes with a gala presentation of all the projects in October.

Since 2012, more than 30 local non-profits have participated in Design Assign. Here are some examples of projects completed in previous Design Assign events:

Wine_and_Chocolate_Festival.jpg• Rebranding for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Wine & Chocolate Festival
• Promotional brochures for Central Iowa Shelter & Services
• Redesigned brochure and graphics for Youth Emergency Services Shelter (YESS)
• Infographic design for Prevent Child Abuse Iowa
Check out some awesome examples of past work on the AIGA Design Assign Website.

Timeline: Now through April 12, 2015, submit a project request as a nonprofit for Design Assign! For more information project submissions and guidelines, visit

Connecting with YNPN DSM – A Fresh Perspective

Guest post by Mallory Kowal, Health Coordinator with TAVHealth at Mercy Accountable Care Organization in Des Moines

MalloryKowal.jpgLast week, I experienced my first encounters of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network kind. My newfound interest in reading the Business Record is partly responsible for this exploration, as its recent issues feature several impressive individuals who identified as members of this group. But what really drew me in was the active engagement of the website and social media presence. Reviewing the many upcoming and past professional, social, and educational opportunities, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, they really get a lot done.’

I started my professional life in Des Moines in 2011 as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Central Iowa Shelter and Services. I could have significantly benefited from YNPN; the other VISTAs and I ran into a lot of dead ends and would have flourished with the support of other nonprofit community leaders. Though my current position is in healthcare and technology, I still strive to make those valuable nonprofit connections because I recognize that the more acquainted I am with the nonprofit world, the better I can assist patients who depend on their services.

It was a Monday and there was a new member social happening at Quinton’s about an hour after I get off work. Quinton’s is comfortable – bright and spacious enough where a newcomer wouldn’t feel like a focal point, Plus, they have a happy hour I can get with. So I brought my best “for-profit friend” and we moseyed on up to the small group that had gathered. The next hour passed in pleasant company where we shared laughs and experiences (professional and not), and I felt that I had met a distinctly refreshing genre of Des Moinesian.

Toeing the water had proven to be agreeable, so I decided to attend a discussion group a few days later on how to connect with colleges, led by Iowa Campus Compact and representatives of our local higher educational institutions – Drake, DMU, Simpson, Central, Iowa State, and the University of Iowa. Keeping with the “room-to-grow” feeling, this meeting was held at West End Salvage – an even brighter and more open space – and I was impressed to see three full tables of young people, even though it was 8 a.m. on a Thursday. I purchased a delicious café au lait and found a seat.

Throughout the discussion, I learned that many nonprofits had partnered with local colleges with strong results: Drake has a community initiative that drives students and faculty members to foster positive change within the surrounding neighborhoods, DMU students hosted a health fair for clients of the Easter Seals of Iowa, Central College used GIS mapping to aid DMARC in their aim to identify food islands and opportunities through outreach, and the University of Iowa is co-writing grants with the Iowa Cancer Consortium.
These successes in health, technology, and financial services assured me that although I am no longer a student, universities are both packed with incredible resource capacities and still very accessible. I was grateful to find that my peers had also retained an undying love for their alma mater, and channeled this devotion into game-changing accomplishments and reciprocal relationships.

In short, the morning was positively inspiring, and I walked away with some priceless new connections to other young professionals and my head buzzing with ideas. Thank you to YNPN for existing, and keep up the amazing work!

Partnering with Colleges & Universities: Des Moines Area Intern Contacts Master List


Looking to recruit college interns and job applicants to your nonprofit? A great place to start is with the local career centers. We compiled a handy list of contacts (current as of Feb. 2015) in the area to help you make the connection.

Download an awesome resource here: YNPN Des Moines Master Internship College Contacts

A Student’s Perspective: A Discussion About How to Engage with Potential Interns and Volunteers

Guest post by Shayna Holle, Intern for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Central Iowa and student at Simpson College

ShaynaHolle.jpgI was recently involved with YNPN as a student panelist for one of their series discussions entitled “Afraid to Ask: Creating Quality Learning Experiences for Students.”

From a student’s perspective, I think it’s great that young nonprofit professionals in the Des Moines area are hungry to figure out how they should be approaching students and the most effective ways to do so. Not only does this series benefit YNPN members, but it also benefits students. As you all desire the best intern for your organization, we desire to be the best intern for the organization that’s right for us. That is something I truly believe. However, sometimes it can be difficult to find that perfect fit.


So, how do you find the right candidate for your organization? 
I think it starts with generating a detailed and specific position description. Every potential intern or volunteer should be able to gather a sense of the position or opportunity. Generating desired tangible outcomes for the candidate to see is crucial. It’s also important to provide more description than what you think is necessary. Don’t compromise what you’re looking for in a potential intern or volunteer by not listing the qualifications you desire and the tasks you want completed. Because just like you, we also want to get the most out of our experiences and opportunities.

Besides specificity, I think it’s extremely important to be aware of and to utilize your connections with local colleges and universities.Think about anyone and everyone you have interacted with at Drake, Central, Grandview, Iowa State or Simpson. Connections are vital. Being a student at Simpson has allowed me to establish and develop valuable relationships with my professors and other faculty members on campus. When someone on campus approaches me about an opportunity, nine times out of 10, I’ll apply for it. My professors know me; they know my qualifications, experience and skills. When they approach me, it’s because they believe I’m qualified and that I would be a good fit for whatever position it might be. As young professionals within the nonprofit world, you’ve been exposed to how influential and instrumental networking actually is. Utilize your experience and knowledge and become connected to the schools in the area in some way, whether that’s through professors, students or other faculty members.

As a soon-to-be college graduate, I can speak from experience that I wish more nonprofit organizations would be proactive about reaching out to colleges and universities when opportunities arise. So many students, just like myself, are passionate about making a difference and being involved with organizations who advocate for those who aren’t able to do so for themselves. College students are eager to establish lasting impressions, and I believe nonprofits are the perfect place to begin.

Why Isolated Impact Isn’t Working

Guest post by Emily Boyd, Neighborhood Engagement Coordinator for Community Housing Initiatives, Inc. 

EmilyBoyd_VIVA.jpgIn the nonprofit world, we’re constantly trying to find ways to implement our mission. We fulfill our mission by offering programs, gathering important data for policy changes, advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves, creating meaningful solutions and more.

At times, we see collaborations among nonprofits for noteworthy events and networking opportunities to share new programs and services available: But are those things making long-term impacts? Are you seeing the needle move in your field?

A workshop titled Facilitating Collaboration: Strategies and Tools for Shared Success was offered earlier this year by The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. The main point was that single organizations cannot address complex social issues alone. It takes a group of organizations from various fields and passionate individuals who are willing to come together to tackle an issue.

A popular example is Strive, a collaborative group operating under the collective impact model to improve education. Check out what the Stanford Social Innovation Review had to say.

“These leaders realized that fixing one point on the educational continuum—such as better after-school programs—wouldn’t make much difference unless all parts of the continuum improved at the same time. No single organization, however innovative or powerful, could accomplish this alone. Instead, their ambitious mission became to coordinate improvements at every stage of a young person’s life, from “cradle to career.” Strive didn’t try to create a new educational program or attempt to convince donors to spend more money. Instead, through a carefully structured process, Strive focused the entire educational community on a single set of goals, measured in the same way.”

The workshop and article mentioned above both reiterate that you have to set aside yourpersonal agenda to create a common agenda with a joint approach.

How do you see this approach benefiting the population you serve? Where can cross-sector partnerships change the system of how people are working together to address a complex issue? As young professionals, how can we pave the way with innovative solutions that make our community safer, healthier, stronger?

There are few coalitions that exist in the metro, one being Viva East Bank, something I helped spearhead to address neighborhood revitalization. It’s only in initial stages, but it’s a model we hope to spread near and far throughout the Des Moines metro. We certainly have a long way to go, but as The Community Foundation says time and time again, we are better together.

Guest Post: My NON-CON Experience

Guest post by Anna Wernimont, AmeriCorps VISTA Change Agent for Community Youth Concepts


As a newbie to Des Moines, joining YNPN was a great way for me to be introduced into the exciting and energetic non-profit world. No matter your age or experience, transitioning is one of the most difficult things we go through as individuals. As I navigate through the unknown, having the opportunity to build my social and professional networks while also being exposed to continuing education and support is extremely valuable.

It’s exciting to be able to have YNPN as an avenue for so many of us in Des Moines as they provide a wide variety of engaging opportunities such as the NON-CON mini conference. At the beginning of January, YNPN hosted their first conference, which was, as the title suggestions, non-traditional and non-scripted. (Being inventive is nothing new to this group of exceptional leaders who make up the YNPN board. This is encouraging for us less-than-average creative people.)

With over 75 people at the non-con, the room was energized. We opened up with an improv session that highlighted difficult conversations common in the nonprofit sector, with commentary from  the crowd and Sherri Nielsen, Executive Director of Easter Seals, offering us her wise insight for common situations in the non-profit world which require delicate handling. From there we had the opportunity to choose two of four breakout sessions hosted by our very own young professionals of Des Moines.

I enjoyed attending the conference because of how comfortable the environment was.I engaged with old friends and met new ones, explored topics that spark my interests, and was reminded of the value behind why I choose to do the passionate work I do. I was uplifted reflecting on the natural talents I offer to my projects (Ariane Criger; The Creative Design Process) but also felt supported discussing the critical importance of taking care of our personal wellness first and foremost (Emily Boyd; Burnout Prevention).

I am already eager for next year and to see the ways in which YNPN can expand upon NON-CON and their operations as a great network in Des Moines.

DSM Charity Hack Nonprofit FAQ

Guest post by Matt Hauge, Communications & Marketing Director at Community Housing Initiatives, Inc.


The Des Moines Charity Hack is back, with a second 48-hour event planned for February 26-28, 2015, in a new location at the Gravitate co-working space in Des Moines.

The event supports greater Des Moines’ non-profit sector using the “hackathon” concept to create solutions for all sorts of technology challenges organizations face. Participating non-profits start the event by describing their technology challenges to a team of about 80 developers, designers and project managers. Then the participants divide up to form teams of about 8-10 people who will spend the next 48 hours intensely working to build a solution for the nonprofit.

Applications are now being accepted for participating nonprofits at the dsmHack.orgwebsite through February 13.

Below the jump, Matt Hauge, who serves on the board of Urban Ambassadors, an organization that participated in 2014’s hack event, has answered some questions about participating in the event. We also recommend checking out this great report from Kristin Huinker, another participant in last year’s event.

What is dsmHack and why should our nonprofit participate?

The Des Moines Charity Hack (dsmHack) is a two-day event that brings together an incredible range of technology experts to help advance your organization’s mission. If you have had a website, database, or other technology problem but lacked the skills, money, or time to get started with a solution–well, your dsmHack team will knock your socks off with how much they can help.

What kind of projects can we submit?

dsmHack offers your nonprofit two days of service from an incredible team of talented tech pros–for free. We encourage you to dream big and submit the project you’ve always wanted to see happen.

Example projects include automating paper processes like volunteer registration or creating web forms to use instead of paper forms. Your team could help improve and modernize your organization’s website. They could help clean up your organization’s database of donors, or or use it for a new purpose, like sending e-newsletters.

They can also help create new ways to engage your donor and client communities. Last year, one team developed an innovative e-card solution, and another team developed a fun game to educate donors about the organization’s mission.

At the event, everyone’s goal is making sure nonprofits leave with a successfully completed project they can use right away. The dsmHack organizers do their best to admit nonprofits whose project ideas can be reasonably accomplished in the 48 hour timeframe of the event, and they may suggest that you consider alterations to your project to boost its chances of being a success. Also, once you meet your project team, you’ll be able to agree with them what’s reasonable with the time and talent available.

So what actually happens during the event?

First of all, you’ll build your team. When tech participants arrive at dsmHack, they are not automatically assigned to a group, and they may not have heard of the participating nonprofits. That’ll change quickly. Nonprofits are invited to give a short presentation (5 minutes or less! no slides!) introducing your work and your project. Then, participants divide up around the room to form project teams. The dsmHack organizers helps make sure each nonprofit is able to pull together the best team possible for its project.

For a surprising amount of the event, nonprofit participants are able to sit back and relax. Yes, your team will have questions for you, but as long as you’re available to help them out and offer encouragement, they’re hard workers, and they stay focused. At the same time, it’s really fun to get to know your team a little bit and find out what drove them to choose to help out your organization.

At the end of the event Saturday, nonprofits gather and your tech team presents its completed work back to you. For some nonprofit participants, this may be the most exciting and gratifying experience you’ve ever had with technology.

Does it cost anything to participate?  What’s required?

There is no cost to nonprofits to participate in the dsmHack event. At the same time, your organization is responsible for software, equipment, web hosting, and similar costs associated with your project.

Your project team works incredibly hard for you during the 48 hour event–and they actually pay for the privilege of working for you. As a result, participating nonprofits are expected to follow certain guidelines for participation.

Nonprofits are asked to have a representative on-site for the first four hours of the event Thursday, over the lunch hour Friday and Saturday, and for the last two hours of the event Saturday. (You are welcome to stay longer!) It’s also necessary to have someone from your nonprofit on-call to answer questions from your team throughout as much of the event as possible–yes, even in the wee hours.

The dsmHack organizers do their best to admit nonprofits whose projects can reasonably be completed in the 48-hour time frame of the event, and your project team will do everything they can to make it happen. However, the organizers are not able to guarantee follow-up support for projects after the event. It will be your responsibility to agree with your project team whether they are able to continue their volunteer service after the event. That’s why taking time to get to know your project team members and talk about their interest in the organization is so important.

Have more questions or want to sign up?  Head over to for more information or to contact the organizers.

NON-CON 2015 Schedule


Thursday, Jan. 8 – 2015 @ Des Moines Social Club

12:30 – 1 p.m. Registration @ Kum&Go Theater lobby

1-1:15 p.m. Welcome

1:15-1:55 Intro session: Improv for Uncomfortable Conversations @ Kum&Go Theater w/ Nick Renkoski & Sherri Neilsen

2-2:45 p.m. Breakout Session A – Choose One

  • The Creative Design Process @ Kum&Go Theater w/ Ariane Criger
  • Burnout Prevention @ Gallery w/ Emily Boyd
  • Poetry for Mission @ Basement bar w/ Emily Lang & Kristopher Rollins
  • Mindmapping with Funders @ Culinary space w/ Angie Dethlefs-Trettin, Matt McGarvey & Laura Palmer

3-3:45 p.m. Breakout Session B – Choose One

  • The Creative Design Process @Kum&Go Theater w/ Ariane Criger
  • Burnout Prevention @ Gallery w/ Emily Boyd
  • Music for Mission @ Basement bar w/ Danny Heggen
  • Mindmapping with Funders @Culinary space w/ Angie Dethlefs-Trettin, Matt McGarvey & Laura Palmer

3:45 – 4 p.m. Closing Remarks

4-5 p.m. Affinity discussion @ Architectural Salvage

5 – 7 p.m. After Party @ Basement Bar {Announcing the 2015 Board!}

Special thanks to our sponsors!

15 Professional Development Resolutions

With the turn of every new year, we seize the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and work on a healthier, kinder, more awesome version of ourselves. We make resolutions, set new goals, join a gym, organize our closets, sign up to volunteer and look for ways to stay accountable.

This year, think about setting some professional development goals  — and becoming a member/renewing with YNPN Des Moines. We’re probably not as ripped as your new personal trainer, but we can help keep you on track for success.


15 Professional Development Resolutions for 2015 (and ideas for achieving them!)

Get published. Challenge yourself to write something worth reading. Maybe your organization has a newsletter or blog, or your development team is in need of some testimonials for a campaign? We’re always on the hunt for guest bloggers. Just e-mail with your post.

Supervise an intern. Looking to gain managerial experience? Explore opportunities to bring on an intern at your organization, or supervise a short-term service learning project.  Bobbi Meyer from the Simpson College Career Center offered her tips on our blog.

Take someone whose work you admire out to coffee. One of the coolest things about living in Des Moines is how accessible our leaders are. Think about who you admire and take the bold step of inviting them to coffee. It’s not about asking them to become your mentor, but asking smart questions that can help you weight your next career step. Intimidated by a one-on-one? Come to one of the YNPN monthly Thursday morning coffee discussion meetups! They’ll start up again in February.

Read about new developments in the social sector. We’re geeks for the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Chronicle of Philanthropy. Bookmark the sites and aim to read a new article each week!

Design a poster/flyer that wouldn’t make a designer gag. Bad design won’t help your cause. Maybe you don’t have fancy software, but these resources should help! Tips to go from design ‘freak’ to ‘geek’ Infographics 101

Pitch in to plan an event. Odds are, you didn’t take an event planning course as part of your college curriculum. (If you did, we’re totally jealous!) But in nonprofits, events are a huge part of your world. Stacie put together a great series for us, includingthis fundraising event planning timeline/checklist. No room to plan events for your organization? Our committees are always looking for help!

Attend a conference. Conferences are an awesome way to learn about new skills/developments in the field and meet people from your sector who might be connected to your work. Shameless plug: YNPN NON-CON is coming up on January 8, 2015! Register today. (It’s FREE for paid members.)

Eat lunch with a different co-worker each month. Don’t wait for a staff retreat to get to know your team. Whether your office is small or large, grab a bite in the breakroom or go out to eat with a co-worker you don’t know as well and maybe start to build a new bond. (We love La Mie or Trellis at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden for a tasty power lunch. Tell us your favorite spots in the comments!)

Follow up. Did you have a meeting with someone who offered good advice? Interview for a new job? Apply to grad school? Consider sending a handwritten note of thanks. Keep a stack and stamps in your drawer or bag to help make this a habit. You’ll certainly make an impression.

Develop a tagline. Come up with a short way of introducing yourself that doesn’t just rely on your job title. According to our “Afraid to Ask” event with Mary Bontrager, it’s a step toward building your personal brand. And if you’re between jobs or in a position you don’t love, it steers the conversation toward what you feel are your strengths.

Beef up your LinkedIn presence. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, an active profile can be a career catalyst. Ditch the selfie for your profile pic (YNPN Des Moines occasionally hosts an event to get a professional headshot), add in your skills and join our YNPN Des Moines group to get your questions answered. (Fun fact: Our founding co-chair got headhunted through the project management skills on his profile! Check out Danny’s project management tips here.)

Subscribe to an e-newsletter. Sometimes it’s hard to seek out tips, tricks and inspiration when you’ve got a huge to-do list. Want to learn more about social media trends. You better bet there’s an e-newsletter for that! (Chris Snider, a professor at Drake has a good one.) DSM and the Business Record also publish e-newsletters with good local business and nonprofit content. YNPN National has an e-newsletter, too!

Go to another organization’s fund or friend-raiser event. Looking for an excuse to get dressed up and enjoy a glass of wine? Celebrate for a cause other than your own. It’s fun with a side of professional development, when you scope out the vendors, auction items, etc. These days, so many local events have a YP rate. Save up and check the Gatsby Gala, Farmstasia, Zoobilation or some other fabulous event off your bucket list.

Ask for help. In the nonprofit world, we rely lots on on-the-job training. Sometimes you’ve gotta fake-it-till-you-make-it, or pretend you’re a multitasking octopus who can get it all done in a day. (We all have the same 24 hours as Beyonce, right? Wrong. She has a staff!) Come to one of the YNPN Des Moines ‘Afraid to Ask’ sessions and get help in a certain area, or ask your boss to send you to a workshop, or whatever you need to not become burnt out and discouraged. Got it all covered? Offer to help someone else on your staff with a project if you see s/he is overwhelmed.

Write a grant or make an ask. Maybe you have a grantwriting team (lucky duck!) but if this isn’t part of your day-to-day work, see if you can build skills in fund development. The Charitable Giving Resource Center holds a Fundraising University in the fall, and the Drake University Center for Professional Studies (a YNPN Des Moines Sponsor!) hosts a workshop this coming May.

 Do you have other professional development goals for 2015? We want to hear them! Don’t forget to renew your membership or join YNPN Des Moines today

NON-CON is Coming Up Jan. 8!

We’re so excited! YNPN Des Moines is hosting our first mini conference and after party on Jan. 8, 2015 to celebrate our second programming year.


We’ll be exploring topics in nonprofit management through the lens of art, a theme that was inspired by our hosts, the Des Moines Social Club, and a desire to have a Powerpoint-free conference. NON-CON attendees will creatively address challenges in the nonprofit sector and enjoy a space to meet and learn from potential collaborators.

Who’s it for? The event is open to professionals of all ages and experience levels. Whether you currently work at a charitable organization or have goals to be a change-maker in our community, you will come away excited and energized to fulfill your mission. It’s FREE for YNPN Des Moines members or $45 for the general public.

Get tickets on Eventbrite:

The best thing about planning this is working with a team of our up-and coming leadership, and pulling in amazing artists and nonprofit pros to facilitate.

NON-CON Presenters

Nick Renkoski, marketer/actor and a man of many talents, will facilitate an unconventional kick-off session. Easter Seals Iowa President & CEO Sherri Nielsen, will provide extra wisdom as we take on “difficult conversations in nonprofits.”

After our opening session, attendees can choose two breakouts from the lineup:

  • Laura Palmer of XO-LP will bring her nonprofit pro background and super illustrator skills together as part of a team going inside the mind of fundraising. Angie Dethlefs-Trettin from the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines andMatt McGarvey from Telligen Community Initiative are some of the most approachable grantmakers you’ll ever meet, and they’ve agreed to put their brains on loan for the afternoon.
  • Emily Boyd, a nonprofit pro (Community Housing Initiatives) by day and yoga instructor by early morning/evening will drop some burnout prevention tactics.
  • Educators/Power poets Kristopher Rollins and Emily Lang of RUN DSM will be there with all of their characteristic energetic reciprocity for a session on poetry and mission. (First session only)
  • Danny Heggen, our fearless co-chair and musician-by-night will share his ideas on setting the sound at your fundraising event and how to communicate with bands and musical artists when you’re on a budget. (Second session only)
  • Back by popular demand, designer Ariane Criger, who facilitated our Design 101 workshop, will present on graphic design principles and the creative process for non-designers.

After the mini-conference ends at 4 p.m. we’ll have an after-party in the Social Club’s Basement Bar from 5-7 p.m. Between sessions, you can hop over to Architectural Salvage for a super informal affinity-based discussion opportunity. We’d love for you to be at the NON-CON, but if you’re stuck at work and can just swing by for the after party, we’re excited to see you!

Huge thanks to the amazing sponsors come forward to make this day possible and  We’re splitting our sponsor dollars with the Social Club, who are so graciously hosting us.


Please join us Jan. 8!

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