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!
Guest post by JT Cattle, Advancement and Marketing Associate (AmeriCorps VISTA) at Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
The sound of people’s voices was all you could hear at West End Salvage, and appropriately so for our conversation on communication!
Our 25+ attendees were able to work together to start chipping away at discussion questions such as:
- What is something new you’ve tried with your communications efforts in the last few months? How has it worked?
- What communications platform is most effective for connecting with your supporters? Donors? Volunteers? Clients? Etc.
- What social media platforms do you prefer and why?
- Are Facebook ads a worthy investment?
- Are e-newsletters all the rage?
In my small group, we talked about how social media is a hot-topic, and yet unfortunately it seems to be under-utilized due to the lack of capacity in our organizations. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, all are great ways to communicate to our audiences, but we must take the time to track the effectiveness of our material to know if we should continue to pursue those vehicles. When on the topic of e-newsletters, we found they are widely used among organizations to send out relevant content to donors, clients, volunteers, etc., but short, sweet and to the point seems to have the best effect for higher open/click-through rates.
There are many resources out there which could be helpful to nonprofits, and most of the time if you look hard enough you can find someone willing to help at little to no cost (pending on the parameters of the project of course). Some attendees referenced the AIGA “Design Assign” program, which pairs professional graphic designers with charities once a year for pro-bono work.
Google for Nonprofits is a great program that gives nonprofits the tools they need to help increase their impact.
Many colleges and universities with marketing or graphic design programs have service learning courses and capstones full of students who NEED and WANT experience, so call them up and see if you can get some volunteers, and if you throw the word “internship” in there, you can provide a benefit to students.
Whether it be a tweet, postcard, email or an old-fashioned hand written letter, communication is the mandatory field that will help you spread your mission. Know your audience. Know what works. Know that you can make a difference.
Guest post by Holly Baumgartel, Senior Creative Designer for a non-profit organization in Des Moines, Partner and Designer for Admiria, a hub of creative professionals, and a design contributor for CREATE Design Studio.
Did you know that 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual? Over the past few years, the shift in use to predominately digital media has made infographics a popular way to present large amounts of data. People are visual beings, and with less time to absorb what we see in our inboxes, on social media, and on the web, infographics make perfect sense!
There are a few things to consider before the illustrations, color palette, and configuring the charts. A good infographic starts with strong data that tells a story. Below are three components to consider before you begin designing your infographic:
1. Tell A Story
If your data is boring or doesn’t add real value to the reader, you’ll lose them. Not many people have the desire or time to read a stack of statistical information, even if it is visually appealing. The best way to keep your reader engaged is to tell a story. Take it back to first grade basics. It should have a beginning, middle, and end.
2. Compelling title
It is important to hook your reader immediately so they don’t move onto the next thing. Spend some extra time brainstorming a title that is creative and worthy of their attention.
3. Call to action
Infographics are not just to inform. Make the most of your visual real estate by adding a call to action, whether that is volunteer opportunities, donations, or a pledge. Think about your audience and what the purpose is behind creating this piece.
If your non-profit doesn’t have a designer or can’t afford to hire one, below are a few websites that will arm you with the tools to create your own.
Bonus tip: Your outreach will be more successful if you create a smaller version of the infographic called an ‘infogram’, which can be used for sharing on social media. Use a strong component of the infographic that can stand alone in case it gets separated from the original content through viral sharing.
Holly posts more about infographics and other marketing services at AdmiriaStudio.com.