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 email@example.com.
YNPN Des Moines started as a small group of local young professionals meeting for coffee and sharing resources and ideas for our work in youth-focused nonprofits. We knew we were onto something special, so we decided to spin off into a more formal group that tackled a broad range of topics and built relationships across our local nonprofit sector.
That meant working really hard behind the scenes to draft bylaws, incorporate with the state, build out a bank account, create a social media presence and — oh yeah, host some pretty sweet social and professional development events that would inspire everyone in our ynp community to become a member.
When we started, we had an Executive Board tasked with tackling the behind-the-scenes strategy that gets an organization off the ground. We also enlisted a “Volunteer Corps” of amazing committee co-chairs who could implement ideas and move us forward.
Now, we’re at a point where our original Exec Board will be cycling off. We’re succession planning, or should we call is success-ion planning. (Buh-dum-ching!) We’ve consolidated our leadership structure to reflect where the organization has come. And we’re recruiting!
This is what the YNPN Des Moines leadership structure will look like by July 1, 2015:
October 1, we’ll be opening up applications for our leadership team. Assuming a role as a Board Member for YNPN Des Moines is an excellent opportunity for someone who is looking to leap forward in her leadership experience, or who has his eye on developing his skills as a manager but maybe works in a smaller organization without much room for growth. It’s a lot of good, hard, FUN work. Over the past two years, our co-chairs, secretary and several of our other board members have moved-on-up the career ladder. Part of that is, no doubt, because of our work on YNPN Des Moines.
Board applications will be open October 1-22, 2014. Our membership will elect officers in November. (This may not be a caucus year in Iowa, but you can bet we’ll have a YNPN DSM election night event!) The rest of the Board will be selected in December and announced formally at our January event! The new board will have several months to “shadow” our outgoing leadership team, to transition knowledge and responsibilities in a strategic way. It’s a long process, but we’ve heard from other YNPN chapters around the country that this is a tricky time for an organization, so we’re cool with taking things slow and building up our next leadership team to equip them for success.
Also, honestly, it might take awhile to groom the next group of leaders to be total goofballs. Ahem.
Questions? Interested in applying? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest post by Brianne Fitzgerald, Corporate Relations Manager at United Way of Central Iowa
Are there days when you think to yourself: “I need to get out of my desk and be face-to-face with those that I truly want to work with and help make a difference in their lives.”
All of us who work for a non-profit organization understand why we come to work every day and work as hard as we do. Sometimes we wear multiple hats and cannot find enough time in a day to get everything accomplished that we need to do to move forward and ultimately help our clients. You have an important role in your organization that requires you to focus on a part of the bigger picture.
For me, I’m in a development role in my organization. I am blessed with the opportunity to meet with fantastic people who care enough to give a financial contribution to my organization so we can continue to provide the necessary resources to those in need. We all know that there are so many barriers that play a role in living a financially stable life, going back to school or graduating from high school, securing a good job that pays well, and even having healthy food at the dinner table. My job is to help spread that message and build our community by investing in those that can help everyone break down those barriers.
However, there are times when even my day-to-day job doesn’t provide me with an opportunity to meet these people in our community who need our support. All around our community there are opportunities to raise money for organizations that we know are out supporting our community, but how many times do you have a chance to stand up, stand out, and reach out your hand to directly help another?
I want to share with you an experience that has forever changed the way I look at the community where we live and the people that I work so hard every day to support. Last fall, I participated in a volunteer opportunity with my own organization called the Graduation Walk. I partnered up with a Des Moines Public School employee to travel door to door to students who have either dropped out of school or might possibly drop out of school (due to low credits or attendance) to ask them if they want to come back or find ways to help them get the support they needed to finish school.
Dropouts stand to earn, on average, $707,400 less over their lifetime than their peers who graduate. People who do not graduate from high school are four times as likely to be unemployed, five times more likely to become incarcerated, and six times more likely to be teen parents? Adding the loss of income and the human service costs, every dropout represents a million dollar problem – and I was excited to be a part of the solution.
All of us who work for a non-profit also know the power of an ‘ask’. This ‘ask’ can be of someone to give money, advocate for a cause, or volunteer for your organization. The ask is POWERFUL. The same idea applies here. We asked them to finish school, and showed them that the community cares about them, their family and that they are successful.
I spent four hours out of my Saturday morning – away from my three kids and husband – and entered into a world that not many people have the opportunity to step into. The neighborhoods these families live in, the condition of their homes inside and out – all the way down to the personal challenges they face mentally, physically, and emotionally – was indescribable. I went home that afternoon and just sat there for a few minutes in my driveway staring at my house, my kids playing in the backyard, and even the car I was driving. I walked into my home and just sat down and found myself with tears coming down my face. We all work hard each and every day to provide support to those that meet the needs of our organization’s mission. Some of us get to see what I just described every day. Most of us do not. We hear about it, read about it, and know it exists. We all know that it sometimes just takes one person, ONE PERSON, to change the life of another. So here’s your chance…
United Way of Central Iowa and the Des Moines Public Schools are teaming up again this year to host the Graduation Walk. YOU have the opportunity to experience what I did. Join me on Saturday August 23rd and change YOUR life. For more information or to sign up please visit: www.unitedwaydm.org
Q: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, that’s a hardware problem.
Funny, right? No? Well, for participants in the first ever DSM Hack event, that joke would have generated a few chuckles. This incredible 48-hour charity hackathon brought together more than 80 computer programmers, developers, project managers, and designers from across the metro to share their mad coding skills and do good.
Event organizers received 18 proposals from nonprofits and narrowed the field down to nine (to see a full list of participating charities, click here). At the kickoff, each nonprofit addressed the crew and pitched their project, identifying the need for tech upgrades and the impact these upgrades would have on the organization. After the pitches, programmers and nonprofits participated in a round of hackathon speed dating, where teams were formed and project ideas fine-tuned. Forty-eight hours (and lots of coffee, energy drinks, and beer) later, the hack teams presented their finished projects to the group.
Our proposed project for YESS was a mobile app, including a game, for our signature fundraiser, the YESS Duck Derby. The app’s purpose is to encourage year-round donor and volunteer engagement with the agency and the kids we serve. Two days is an awfully short amount of time to design, code, and produce a quality app, so we aren’t quite ready to unveil the finished product. But thanks to our rock-star team and their wonderful generosity, Team Duck has agreed to continue working on the app until its completion!
A few key takeaways:
Show impact – In a partnership like this, we are not expected to be experts in the field of computer programming (hence, the need for a charity hackathon). We are, however, expected to be the experts on impact – on our agency, the individuals we serve, and the greater good. The best pitches and projects highlighted the agency’s needs and how the hack team could best position the nonprofits for success. As I told Team Duck before the final presentations, this app is not just a fun game, it’s a game-changer for YESS and the kiddos we serve.
Be the cheerleader – A representative from YESS, either myself or a co-worker, stopped by every few hours to check-in and answer questions. These visits were very much moral boosters for the team and also showed the agency’s commitment to seeing this project through.
Bring swag – As nonprofits, our biggest marketing tool is our brand, and if you have t-shirts, pens, mugs, or ducks (ok, maybe that’s just a YESS thing) sitting in a cabinet back at the office, you are missing out on a prime opportunity to market to a group you may not ever encounter again.
Major kudos to the organizers of this event. Brilliant concept that resulted in lots of feel-good vibes and energy. Can’t wait until next year!