Five Minutes in Hell
Monday, October 20th
5:30 - 7:30 pm
Hell's Kitchen, Minneapolis

Moment of Obligation Workshop
Wednesday, November 5th
5:30 - 7:30 pm
Center for Changing Live
2400 Park Avenue, Minneapolis

 

 

* Notes from Creating Leader-full Spaces presentation at 2012 Nonprofit Leadership Conference.

* Facilitation resources on topics such as Open Space Technology and World Cafe, and groups such as the Public Conversations Project and the international Art of Hosting network.

 

 

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We provide and promote opportunities for the development of young nonprofit professionals.

We envision a world where young nonprofit professionals:

• connect through purpose
• challenge to change
• lead together

Our values:

● We strive for respect and inclusiveness
● We seek opportunities to collaborate
● We respond to the evolving needs of our community

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The Twin Cities chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network is a community of nonprofit staff, volunteers, supporters, and allies: current and future leaders who want to connect with others in the social sector.

 

Wednesday
Oct222014

Omnivorous Leadership

By Cary Lenore Walski
Follow Me on Twitter @cwalski

I never cease to be amazed by my dog Lela’s tireless quest for food, or the broadness of her definition of it. To Lela, food is what you eat. And so during the course of the day yesterday I wrested from her mouth one apple core, a piece of neon yellow chewing gum (used) and apparently-not-poisonous mystery berries.

Although her open-mindedness vis-a-vis “food” leaves me longing for hand sanitizer, I can’t help but admire her instincts. In her own weird way, Lela has no preconceptions about what opportunity is. She pursues it with single-minded enthusiasm.

I wonder if there’s a lesson in there for all of us about the value of seeking opportunities, insights, and new ideas from unconventional sources. I’ve been thinking a lot about the particular qualities of leadership that enable an organization to be innovative.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of these qualities must be an “omnivorous” approach to ideas at all levels — an ability to set aside our bias and evaluate opportunity upon facts instead of preconceptions.

I read an article over on Wired recently about the psychology of power. In it one of the psychologists quoted notes that those who find themselves in positions of power consistently become less apt to listen to those who are not perceived as being as powerful.

As a result, they miss out on the insights of those working around them, and the work of the group suffers. This myopia also applies to the most important group that a leader has to listen to — the people they actually serve, whether it be through products and services in for-profit companies, or through programs in the nonprofit world.

As Andrew Carnegie was found of saying, if he had succeeded in life, it was because he surrounded himself with people smarter than he. Where would he have ended up if he hadn’t recognized the value in listening to those around him?

I think it’s something worth thinking about as we millennials begin to accept positions of leadership, and strike off on our own to create those positions for ourselves through new start-up ventures and organizations.

What do you think? How do you incorporate an omnivorous approach to ideas at your workplace, even if you aren’t in a leadership position?

Wednesday
Oct152014

Negotiating FTW

 

By Carl Atiya Swanson
Follow me on Twitter @catiyas 

I am finishing up an MBA at the University of Saint Thomas, and one of my last classes is an elective on negotiations. I really enjoy it - the readings are on sports contracts and great diplomatic compromises. I enjoy role-playing in the cases that we use for mock negotiations and the debriefing afterward where the class analyzes cases from every point of view. These are enriching experiences.

There are some really useful skills that I've picked up in the class, many from Ron Shapiro's book, The Power of Nice. If you are looking for an approachable book on building your negotiation skills, I'd definitely recommend this read. It’s full of memorable guidelines and pithy insights from many years in sports and entertainment negotiation, and it’s a quick read. His “3Ps and a Big L” – prepare, probe, propose, and listen – are as useful and basic an insight as you’re likely to get, and it can be applied to any number of situations we face as young nonprofit professionals. 

For example, if you’re accepting a new job or looking for a salary increase, how would you apply the 3Ps and Big L framework? You could prepare by researching your position’s salary range with the Minnesota Council on Nonprofits Salary & Benefits Survey (there’s a copy in the Springboard for the Arts Resource Center if you need one.) You could also use the business and entrepreneurship resources at the J.J. Hill Reference Library to build a better understanding of the sector. You’d probe your boss or potential employer for what they see as your key strengths, what the needs of the organization are, and what you can do to fulfill those needs. You’d put together a proposal that shows your value, how it increases the strength of the organization, and makes it seem perfectly rational that you’d get a raise. You’d listen all along for new opportunities and the nuances that give you the leverage to make the raise a reality.

Of course, it’s not that easy, but you always have to be looking for the opportunity to make the pie bigger – to be integrative and expansive in your negotiations. And that’s really the key insight from Shapiro – that every negotiation is a relationship-building exercise, and you should be looking to create ongoing benefits. He doesn’t use the phrase “win-win” that we hear so often, but “WIN-win,” where we come out ahead, but don’t burn any bridges in the process. If you’re clear, rational, and firm, negotiations can plant seeds that bear abundant fruit.

That “WIN-win” resonates with me in my nonprofit capacity. Much of our work is driven by passion, creativity, joy and a profound desire to make things better. Sometimes the cases that we’ve used in class for mock negotiation are set up as spot negotiations, bargaining hard to extract the greatest profit out of a single situation, and this is where the negotiations make me feel like a bad capitalist but a good member of the social sector. As nonprofit professionals, we’re looking for big wins, and we’re negotiating on more than just a purchase price of, say, 100,000 pheasant eggs.

We can’t completely remove material gain from the equation – nonprofits are only one step removed from profit, either through our own earned income, the generosity of individual donors, or the accumulated wealth of foundations. However, our impact is not necessarily measured in the concreteness of cash. I recently had the opportunity to hear Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, speak about the launch of the Knight Cities Challenge. In conversation, he pointed out that the Foundation makes grants to figure out what the social trends are, anticipate needs, and adapt our systems and infrastructure. You can’t necessarily capture that on a profit & loss statement.

In Lady Windemere's Fan, Oscar Wilde asked the question, "What is a cynic?" His response, "A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." So here’s a challenge fpr us young nonprofit professionals who are called to do good work: Let's find the real measures of our work. Let's develop more ways to track and share the impacts of dignity, joy and creativity. Whether it’s tracking audience reactions, shifts in the media narrative, or other quantitative measures that support the stories we know, let’s tease out those measures and them as bargaining tools when negotiating the value that we bring to the table. Negotiate FTW.

Photo By Claire Nelson

Wednesday
Oct082014

Knowing What Metrics Can (And Can’t) Tell You

By Anthony Parrish 

Did you know that the amount of mozzarella cheese consumed in the United States correlates to the number of civil engineering doctorates awarded? It is true – check it out here (along with many other spurious correlations).  Statistics of varying ilk are everywhere, from Facebook's massive experiments on users to how we calculate the poverty line. Honestly, those numbers can be scary, especially when they are about our own performance at work. But, statistics can also be helpful in staying focused on what really matters.

Take this article focusing on five metrics that can be used to measure the success of a fundraiser - a major giving officer to be specific… Caseload value, value retention, large gifts, return on investment, and connection to program are all relatively easy to track and calculate. By tracking those numbers, the giving officer can focus on what will make his or her successful in the job. For example, if you are tracking value retention, and from one year to the next there is a significant drop in funds raised from a certain group of individuals, it lets you key in on that group and find out what the problem is. Maybe they did not get enough attention from the officer or maybe they all are invested in the same mutual fund that tanked. You do not know the reason, but by using statistics, you can focus in on the problem and strategically work towards success. 

However (and this is a Sir Mix-a-Lot size “however”), if that same giving officer, or their manager, gets caught up on one of these variables without looking at the bigger picture, the officer, the manager, and most importantly the donors, can suffer negative consequences. Let us say the manager is concerned about large gifts; she would really like to receive at least one six-figure gift and there have not been any in a full year… Putting pressure on the giving officer to focus on that metric could lead to a few negative outcomes. He or she might neglect donors of lower short-term value (an action that could significantly affect the long-term giving potential of those donors), lose connectedness (and more importantly passion) for the organization’s programs, or fail to listen and understand donors’ intentions, missing a strong, long-term relationship.

Not all of those things would necessarily happen; metrics usually do not cause so many problems. But, if you start tracking something, you need to make sure that it is a number that matters and that it fits into a much broader strategy for success. Who knows, if you do it right, you might be as successful as the Boston Red Sox after their 2013 hire of Bill James. Then again, we don’t really know for sure if that hiring actually caused the winning…

Image Credit

 

Wednesday
Oct012014

Doing Something With Your "Do Something"

By M. Maria Lopez

April, 2009 Click… Bushfire in Australia kills over 150 people, exact numbers still unknown … Click… the WHO now considers the swine flu outbreak to be an emergency of international concern … Click…an Alabama man kills 9 people before committing suicide … Click …  

I wanted to “DO SOMETHING”. Only, I wasn’t really sure what that “SOMETHING” was- I just had a fuzzy, unfocused and sincere desire to help. I had recently graduated college, was stuck in a boring job, and my only response to horrible things happening in the world, was to click over to cat videos or, at most, write an impassioned Facebook post, where friends would join me in my outrage and inaction.

At a friend’s suggestion, I started leisurely looking for a volunteer opportunity. I had volunteered all through high school and mostly enjoyed it. It was better than nothing, and I certainly didn’t have oodles of money to put towards some brilliant cause, nor did I have the years of wisdom or education to solve the problems of the world. When I saw MAP for Nonprofits at a job fair, I asked if they knew of anyone looking for a volunteer. “Oh,” the woman said, “You don’t want to just volunteer- you want to be on a board of directors.”  …Me? On a board of directors? Weren’t board members old, rich, white men? I excelled at stuffing envelopes, and showed some brilliance at setting up tables, but I had no idea if I could be a board member.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep252014

Tips for Everyday Project Management

By Katie Tharp
Follow Me on Twitter @DangerKate

As of late, I’ve been hearing a lot of requests for training on project management skills. Having been a project manager in fundraising for some years and having taken a lot of project management classes, I know that a variety of tools exist out there to guide people through project management. However, I find that even the “official” project management tools offered by the Project Management Institute, the association of professional project managers, can be overkill for everyday nonprofit projects.

So how do you sort through it all if you want to get organized? To help, I’ve pared down the list to focus on some tools that would be useful for common projects at nonprofits.

Click to read more ...