YNPN Des Moines started when I was at one of those awkward in-between parts in my twenties. I had quit my first profession — journalism, the one I went to college for. I was in the middle of my grad program, studying nonprofit management and executive leadership, and by day was working in a basement as a project manager for a small education-focused nonprofit. My husband and I were also expecting our first child, and ripping the roof of our house with a remodeling project.
My proverbial plate was pretty full, but I felt like something was missing.
I’d encounter issues in my day job that my grad program didn’t necessarily address (board governance, the struggles of working with youth from diverse backgrounds), and so I was glad when I started meeting up with a group of peers every few weeks at Smokey Row. We’d talk about all sorts of topics related to nonprofit work. I met some kindred spirits and felt a sense of community in the informal, down-to-earth discussions.
For me, helping launch YNPN has been a process of peer mentorship. Leadership isn’t something I could gain just from a course in grad school. I had to work with a team to build something from scratch, adding my talents for marketing and communication to those of my friends in the group. (I’m not a finances person, but with Chad as our treasurer, we’re in great shape! I made our first logo when I was home sick one afternoon, but the version our first marketing chair came up with is far more polished. My nature isn’t as technical or detail-oriented as writing bylaws requires, but our secretary, Michelle, and organizational development committee made sure all of our incorporation materials were in order.)
I have continued to invest in YNPN because of the people I’ve watched come forward to participate. Planning an event is one thing, but seeing attendees meet, learn and grow with each other is a remarkable privilege. I truly credit YNPN Des Moines with growing my career.I’ve made inspiring friends through YNPN and learned a heck of a lot about myself in the process. —Brianne Sanchez
Connections, passion and community are the main reasons I lead with YNPN. The importance of making connections, professionally and personally, is at the forefront of why I get up looking forward to each new day. YNPN, for me, is the ideal place to build connections with others who share the same passions and work on growing my community in Des Moines.
While I’m not originally from Des Moines, or Iowa for that matter, I had some difficulty feeling part of the community when I first decided to pursue work here after college. I was soon introduced to a rich and vibrantly diverse community through my first position, which I am still a part of, but I was missing the piece of connecting with other young professionals who shared my interest in social justice, community development and fighting for a larger cause. When I became involved in the group that would eventually lead to the development of YNPN Des Moines, I found this missing piece and have been so pleased to grow my community even more over the last few years. Now I lead not only to continue developing my connections, passions and community, but to assist others with the same growth and I’m excited to see what is to come from here! — Sarah Myren
I lead with YNPN Des Moines because I believe we are all better together. Des Moines is full of talented young professional working in the nonprofit sector. There is so much we can learn from each other and from the leaders in the field we aspire to be. YNPN Des Moines provides members the venues connect and engage in professional development opportunities they may not otherwise had the chance to. I encourage anyone with passion to not only see the Des Moines nonprofit sector grow but be part of that growth to apply for a YNPN Des Moines board position. — Joe Sorenson
I didn’t think about anything more than just joining YNPN in the beginning – no committee work and no additional responsibilities. I originally met with Danny and Brianne Sanchez (I have to include her last name, as people often need clarification now that there are two of us) a few months before making the decision to join the group. I didn’t know at the time exactly what group(s) I wanted to be involved in, or what commitments I should make that worked well for my career and personal life. It didn’t take too long to realize that membership in YNPN was well worth not only the financial investment, but worth it for the opportunities that would come my way as a member.
So joining the organization was one thing…
My very first ‘true’ experience with YNPN was at the birthday bash last January. I came to my first social event and found myself amazed at all the great things the group had done so far, but I was honestly more shocked at all the fantastic people in the community who were a part of the organization. I instinctively knew right away that I needed to be more than just a member – I needed to find a way to give back and help move this organization forward. I wanted to be a part of the magic happening.
In my previous life, I lived in Muscatine, IA where I was a part of the local YPN chapter (Young Professionals Network) for a number of years, and served as the co-chair of the committee that was very similar to our Professional Development committee here at YNPN. I enjoyed what I helped with there, so thought I would join in on the fun here too. When I joined the committee, it was merely to help where I could. I wasn’t sure I had the time to devote more than that. Besides that, I never thought I would have the opportunity to step up and work side by side with my now wonderful partner in crime, Sarah Welch. We didn’t really know each other well, nor did I even really know the fellow committee members, but I didn’t let that stop me. (Trust me, if you do let that stop you, you are missing out on life!) Now almost ten months after joining the organization, I couldn’t be happier that I made the decision to join YNPN and help lead the Professional Development Committee. Yes, I have a demanding job. Yes, I have a family who needs me. Yes, I have other commitments, sit on boards and have volunteer time outside of work. And yes, I still need to find time for me. Would I be who I am today without my experiences through YNPN? Probably not!
So now I ask you – why should you consider stepping up and taking on a leadership role? Well, because you should. Simply put. It is my belief that it is inherent in all of us to succeed and be a leader, we just need to find the way in which we WANT to succeed and what that leadership looks like for each of us. Think of how many additional connections you will make. Think of how this will help you professionally and personally. Think of how wonderful it would be to have that added to your professional resume. Think about how good it makes you feel to give back. Lastly ask yourself – why NOT lead with YNPN? (I bet you can’t think of too many reasons!) —Brianne Fitzgerald
I walked out of college in May of 2012 with a marketing degree under my belt and a job lined up fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association and was feeling pretty great about it. Fast forward four months – my first big fundraising event is upon me, I’m stressed to the max and thinking to myself, “Surely there are others out there like me. Where do I find them? How can we share resources?”
Turns out there are LOTS of others like me – young professionals working in the nonprofit field here in Des Moines. My interest in YNPN Des Moines grew out of my need to grow myself professionally. I faced the same issues many of my YNP peers faced (and maybe you’re facing today too!): new to the “real world” and new to the nonprofit world. Then this brilliant thing came along – a group who banded together like-minded individuals to share resources and help each other grow professionally and personally.
It was important for me to realize that I wasn’t alone – people working in nonprofits face special issues (lack of funds, lack of all resources really) and sometimes it can be stressful but it helps me to remember that there are others like me going through the same thing. I am proud to work beside a group of such passionate, caring, hardworking individuals through YNPN Des Moines and hope you’ll consider joining our team! — Chantelle Mathany
When I moved to Des Moines three years ago, I was eager to join professional and social organizations to get a jump start on my career in the non-profit sector. I have worked in the non-profit field for four years and haven’t found a greater support system than with YNPN Des Moines and I want to make sure it continues to succeed. When we can provide tools and resources specific to our non-profit professionals, they are more prepared to meet the needs of their clients. Their clients then feel more empowered to succeed, which ultimately has a positive impact on our community. It’s a win-win-win situation, so who wouldn’t want to join such an awesome movement? Who knows, maybe you can be that person who makes Des Moines the #1 place for Non-Profit Professionals! (Not that you don’t already have anything else to brag about to your out of state friends…)” —Kelsey (Mueller) Tyrrell
I lead with YNPN Des Moines because I want to be a resource for nonprofit professionals, I want to help create areas and platforms for young professionals to connect in Des Moines and allow for information sharing, professional development to occur, and to do it all in a fun and networking environment. I think you can do the same and so I encourage you to consider applying for the YNPN Des Moines Board. Come and be a part of the fun! – Chad Driscoll, YNPN Des Moines Board Member and Treasurer
I lead with YNPN because I think Des Moines’ non-profit professionals are some of the smartest, most creative and inspiring people in the city, and those are the type of people I want to surround myself with. I enjoy being a part of this community, and creating opportunities for YNPNers to connect with one another to share ideas, resources and experiences. — Katy Heggen
Guest post by Macy Koch, Director of Digital Strategy for Brand Driven Digital. Check out details about their upcoming Social Brand Forum and enter for a chance to win one of five free tickets thanks to Des Moines Radio Group.
As a staff member at a nonprofit, you may often be pulled in many directions. From posting on social media to organizing volunteers, your job includes many moving parts. Thankfully, there are plenty of digital tools to help.
We all know the basics, but there are a few that I often recommend to clients that many brands aren’t fully utilizing, especially nonprofits. Here are 3 examples with organizations putting them into action:
Amazon – If your nonprofit accepts donations, having the means for a user to donate when it’s most convenient for them is key. Amazon makes this easy for nonprofits looking for physical donations with the use of their wish list feature. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is a great example for a brand that has taken full advantage. If someone wants to donate dog food, they can click, purchase, and have the items shipped directly to the ARL. Extra Amazon perk: If a supporter wants to go one step further, users can use Amazon Smile and have .5% of all purchases they make on Amazon go to the rescue, as well. (Link to learn more.)
USTREAM – Social media has taken off with behind-the-scenes photos and live-blogging. Both allow followers and fans to be a part of the action. The digital platform, USTREAM, can enable this in video form. Any nonprofit can use the platform to create a digital “TV channel” for fans to view. Their smartphone and tablet apps allow you to broadcast live from anywhere, anytime for a low cost. The options are endless on what can be streamed – conferences, fundraisers, protests, and even board meetings. The Colorado Health Symposium, for example, uses the tool to showcase keynote speakers at their yearly event. (Link to learn more.)
BuzzFeed – The site that we may all be guilty of spending too much time on is an often-overlooked platform for nonprofits. A portion of the site is BuzzFeed Community, a place where anyone can post “awesome lists and creations”. Bruce Braley’s team used the platform perfectly for an educational post on how to vote early in the upcoming election. The key for this piece was knowing who their audience was, how they choose to be communicated to (hello GIFs), and how they could still get the most important information out. No matter how the election turns out, this piece of content was a definite win. (Link to learn more.)
Want to take your social media skills to the next level? Enter a giveaway sponsored by the Des Moines Radio Group for a free ticket to Social Brand Forum, happening Sept. 25 & 26 in Coralville.
Guest post by Bobbi Meyer, Internship Coordinator at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa
As a nonprofit professional, you have likely been an intern at some point in your career, and perhaps have had the opportunity to supervise one. Through these experiences, I imagine you’ve found that not all internships are created equal.
Serving as the Internship Coordinator for Simpson College, I have the daily opportunity to converse with students about their experiences and read their reflective journals and evaluations. I have found there are defining themes that set outstanding internships apart from those that are lackluster:
Introduction and inclusion in the organization’s culture:
Starting a new internship is a daunting task. Interns like to feel that their supervisors are excited to have them aboard. A great supervisor will take time on the intern’s first day to have a one-on-one meeting to discuss the intern’s background, skills, goals, and hopes for the experience. The supervisor will also introduce the intern to other employees and will include him/her in lines of office communication. Does your organization have fun rituals – birthday celebrations, Friday jeans day, office potlucks? If so, include your interns. The more interns are made to feel a part of the organization, the more they will be motivated to work.
Projects and tasks at an appropriate level of responsibility:
I encourage you to assign projects and tasks to your interns that match their abilities. After getting to know your intern and his/her strengths, find projects that will help the student develop and be challenged. At the same time, be sure the project isn’t so far out of the intern’s comfort zone that they aren’t able to tackle it with confidence. Also, be sensitive to the time required for those projects. You’ll want to assign the intern enough so he/she won’t be bored, but not so much that the work becomes overwhelming.
Frequent feedback, recognition, and mentorship:
Internships are such a developmental time for students. Interns are testing out the professional world and crave your feedback to know how they are doing. Take time to recognize the great work of your interns as well as areas for continued growth.
Opportunities to network:
Interns have their eye on the future. If you have a full-time opening they can transition into, fantastic! If not, try to find ways to help the student network. You might bring your intern to a YNPN meeting, set that person up for a coffee with a colleague in a different organization, or make introductions on LinkedIn. You will have helped your students the most if they feel they have an idea of what to do next in terms of their career development.
Simpson College is excited to partner with you for student internships. In addition to our traditional internship program, we also have a grant which funds unpaid experiences for junior and senior level students who exhibit financial need. If you’d like to learn more about our office or the grant, please visit: http://www.simpson.edu or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.