Addressing the Root Causes of Hunger and Poverty


By Luke Elzinga, Communications and Advocacy Manager, DMARC

In Polk County, Iowa, 52,000 people are food insecure, and an average of 18,500 people use a food pantry every month. October is here, and Hunger Awareness Month is in full swing. DMARC has been proud to be recognized as a leader in efforts to alleviate food insecurity and assist those who face it in Greater Des Moines. But we’ve learned over the years that only through evolving as an organization and adapting to the needs of the people whom we assist are we most effective in impacting positive change in their lives.

Read more

“We Are All Amazing!”: 4 Takeaways from Vu Le’s Keynote at Unicorns Unite

Vu Le, author of the book “Unicorns Unite: How Nonprofits and Foundations Can Build EPIC Partnerships” and executive director of the Rainier Valley Corps nonprofit, was the keynote speaker at the Unicorns Unite event on August 12, co-sponsored by YNPN. His speech was both an indictment and a celebration of the nonprofit industry.

Here are 4 takeaways from his presentation:


Read more

Other Duties As Assigned: 10 Ways to Take Advantage of the Good Tasks and Drop the Bad

Based on the YNPN Discussion Group on April 11


Nearly every nonprofit job description includes that pesky little bullet: “other duties as assigned.” Some can be exciting new challenges that transform your perspective and career. More often than not, though, they tend to be menial tasks like organizing closets, making endless phone calls, or driving around town until your car runs out of gas and you end up calling your boss in tears.

The nature of nonprofits pretty much requires these “other duties,” but we’ve brainstormed some ways to escape the worst of them and make the best of the rest.

Read more

9 Reasons to Skip Work for NON-CON 2019: I'VE GOT THIS

I'VE GOT THIS wizard of oz

We all love a day off work, and a conference is one of the best excuses to get away from the grind for a refresh. While Des Moines in February isn’t exactly San Diego in the summer, there are still lots of reasons to head over to Grand View University  for YNPN’s annual NON-CON for young professionals. Here are 9 of them.

Read more

The Myth of Mentorship

Based on The YNPN  Discussion Group: Is Mentorship for Me? on January 10 at West End Salvage

Jackie Norris will knock your socks off. First you’ll want her to be your mentor for the rest of your life. Then she’ll make you feel so powerful you’ll realize you don’t need a mentor. At least not in the traditional sense.

You don’t need one mentor. You need 100 mentorship meetings with 100 different people. That’s what Jackie calls situational mentorship.

Read more

Storytelling Secrets and Secrets in Storytelling

Based on the YNPN Des Moines Discussion Group: Confidentiality in Storytelling on November 8, 2018

During the past five years, the marketing world has woken up to what writers and readers everywhere have always known: People crave stories. And storytelling is often way more effective than data when it comes to convincing donors to give, because it builds on emotion, empathy, and trust—universal human values.

In our number-centered world, that means stories have real ROI, as this chart by Michael Brennan, CEO of Marketing Insider Group shows.

In the nonprofit world, stories are extra effective, but they can also be extra tricky, especially when you’re writing about people with lived experience of poverty, trauma, or abuse. You must walk the fine line between telling a good, true story and respecting the wishes and safety of your subject.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Read more

Member Spotlight: Meghan Smith

Meghan Smith is the RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps Program Director at EMBARC. She has a Bachelor's in Business Administration and Economics from Wartburg College.

Interesting Facts: My first two "jobs" after graduating from college were first to be a camp counselor in rural Iowa and then to serve as an AmeriCorps member in New York City. Very different experiences, and going straight from one to the other was a bit of a culture shock.

Love/Hate: I love finding connections, whether it's an actor from an old favorite turning up somewhere unexpected, meeting someone with whom I have an unexpected mutual friend, or something deeper. I can be impatient, so I hate waiting - I always have a book or my phone handy to distract me when I can't avoid a wait.

Passions:I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had in my life, so I'm passionate about others having opportunities to thrive and removing the barriers to success that too many people face. Also tea - I always have some nearby.

Food: I don't really like cake, so for special occasions my mom always makes mint chocolate brownies going back to my elementary school birthdays. My favorite time of year is whenever I have a pan or two of these in the fridge to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Anything else: I love learning new things, so I'm always reading, listening to podcasts, or watching documentaries. If you read/hear/see something interesting, let me know! (and I'm always happy to share what I've been into lately if you are interested)


Member Spotlight: Jaclyn Wulfekuhle

Jaclyn Wulfekuhle is a Corporate Engagement Manager at United Way of Central Iowa and graduate from University of Northern Iowa. Jaclyn currently serves on the YNPN of Des Moines Board of Directors.

Interesting facts:
Last year, my husband and I traveled to New Zealand and lived in a van for two weeks. Also, we host Airbnb from our home in Beaverdale and have welcomed nearly 150 guests.
What do you love and hate:
I love the outdoors, I am a master as soaking up the sun. I love going hiking and biking all summer. I love seasons and holidays and traditions. I love vintage chairs so much that I have one (at least) in every room. I hate ants, I can't stand the idea of the thousands of ants crawling around.

I am passionate about shopping local and supporting our community. Additionally, I am passionate about affordable housing for all community members.
I hate ketchup, I can't even pass you the bottle. I love all seafood, especially octopus.
Additional info: 
I am currently the co-chair for the Social Committee. I love meeting new people in our community especially through YNPN.


Member Spotlight: Steph Ferguson

17972002_10208710263220028_2898348728260039737_o_(1).jpgSteph Ferguson is the Digital Coordinator for HCI Care Services and Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa. She attended Iowa State University where she studied Culinary Science and Journalism & Mass Communications.

Interesting Facts:
I was once a food writer and recipe developer for Cuisine at Home magazine, hence the culinary science degree. And I attended a culinary school in Spain! I'm a native of Des Moines and have recently returned to my hometown after a two-year stint in Omaha. I rescued my border collie, Beans, from the Nebraska Humane Society in 2015 and we have been inseparable ever since.

Kindness, reliability and empathy are all traits that I love and try to use in my day-to-day life. I am at my best when I'm involved in a cause I believe in and allowed to be creative. I have very few things that I hate in life - it's a waste of energy for me. I do dislike the mall during the holiday season.
I am passionate about being engaged in activities around me, my dog and speaking for those who may not have a voice. Oh and coffee! I love being able to connect people together by way of social media. Reputation management is my forte.
Least and Favorite Food:
I absolutely hate anything truffle flavored! As far as favorite foods go, I can eat almost anything. I'm always down for a good charcuterie board, or a hearty breakfast at any time of the day.
What else you should know:
I love meeting with new people and sharing ideas. I'm a learn-on-the-go type person. I'm always willing to dive in and tackle a new task I may not have experience in. Show me a picture of your pet and we'll become fast friends!


Member Spotlight: Mary-Kate Lange

Mary-Kate Lange is the Volunteer Support & Wish Assignment Coordinator at Make-A-Wish Iowa. She has a B.S. in Journalism and Mass Communications with a Public Relations emphasis and a minor in Child, Adult and Family Services from Iowa State University
Interesting Facts: 
I love a good gingham pattern, running for a cause, and listening to live music with a Chardonnay in hand.
What she loves and hates:
I am a big fan of all things Iowa State. My dad and I attend every home football and basketball game. On the other hand, my dislikes revolve around the Iowa Hawkeyes; anything black and gold gets a hard pass.
What she's passionate about:
I am passionate about the city of Des Moines and bettering the lives of all who call it home. I love supporting local businesses and can be spotted shopping at the Downtown Farmer's Market or sipping on a cup o' joe at Scenic Route. I dream of one day being a small business owner and applaud those who have taken the leap!
Favorite and least favorite food:
My favorite food is a good protein pancake, and being lactose-intolerant, anything dairy lands on the least favorite list.

What else you should know:
I'm a big believer in YPs and their involvement in nonprofit organizations; I feel strongly that we make a difference in our communities by donating our time and talents. As the volunteer coordinator for Make-A-Wish Iowa, I seek out opportunities to engage young professionals. I live my life with this quote in mind and encourage you to do the same... "Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so."


get updates