Social Enterprise: Giving Purpose to Profit
Friday, September 19th
12 - 1pm
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits


Scattershot Cafe: Peer Circle Edition
Saturday, September 27th
10 am
Various Minneapolis & St. Paul locations



* 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.






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:

โ— We strive for respect and inclusiveness
โ— We seek opportunities to collaborate
โ— 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.



Ferguson and the Single Issue Struggle

By Lindsay Bacher
Follow me on Twitter @lindsayinMPLS

On Twitter, I saw the picture of Mike Brown’s father holding a cardboard sign saying, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!” A few days later, I watched the livestream of protesters being tear gassed in Ferguson, literally with my hand over my mouth in shock. There were the pictures of protesters doused in milk to ease the tear gas and the waves of police officers in riot gear with armored cars. Countless images of young black men with their hands in the air: hands up, don’t shoot.

I cannot get these images, and the real lived experiences of what was captured, out of my head.

The post-9/11 mantra of “if you see something, say something” made us fearful of the forgotten backpack and the unknown stranger. But seeing the images from Ferguson compels me to do something, say something, do anything, say anything that can help those strangers. I just don’t know what it is yet.

Situations like the civic upheaval in Ferguson impact the whole community and send reverberations out like ripples on a pond. It’s a crash course in intersectionality and the ways our lives are intertwined and interwoven. As Audre Lorde said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

My professional work supports advocacy for reproductive rights, and I read a number of articles asserting the right and ability to safely raise a child is a reproductive justice issue. At first I was annoyed because it felt attention-grabbing and potentially alienating. The more I read and thought about it, the more I came to see it as a living embodiment of Audre Lorde’s assertion that we don’t live single-issue lives. And if the movement I work in and for is going to focus our grassroots people-power on supporting something else I feel strongly about, more power to them - literally.

In this by-no-means conclusive list, here are more examples of intersectionality, places for civic advocacy, and other articles I found interesting:

I want to not feel powerless about what happened to Mike Brown and what is happening in Ferguson.

My first thought was to donate to organizations providing job experience and training like Tree Trust or Cookie Cart (full disclosure: my spouse is employed by Tree Trust). But Mike Brown was shot while walking down the street, regardless of his job or educational status. So while these organizations do good work, my donation won’t prevent another black man from being shot.

So my next idea was to write my mayor and state legislators asking about the militarization of our police forces and body cameras on police officers. Shortly after Mike Brown’s death, Mayor Betsy Hodges announced Minneapolis will be piloting a body camera program with officers this fall and her staff forwarded my questions about militarization on to the Minneapolis Police Department. I’m waiting for their response. And yet, according to this New York Times map, state and local authorities in Hennepin County have 324 assault rifles, three grenade launchers, two armored vehicles, and other military grade gear. Ramsey County has 992 assault rifles, 76 night vision pieces, 40 pistols, three helicopters, and one armored vehicle. Considering we’re hosting the Super Bowl in 2018, I honestly doubt we will demilitarize anytime soon.

The Twin Cities has our own fair share of police brutalization reports - activist Al Flowers alleged MPD officers beat him before arresting him in his home this summer, and last year, Chris Lollie was tasered in the St. Paul skyway while waiting to pick his kids up from school. There are other examples of the systematic racism in Minnesota - we have one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation and we have a history of literally bulldozing black neighborhoods.

To see is to bear witness. To bear witness demands we speak, and that we speak truth, and that we speak that truth to power.

I’m reminded, however, that this is not my lived experience to tell. As a person with privilege, I need to do a lot of listening. I need to practice empathy. I need ask myself how I contribute to inequality and unbalanced power structures. And I’m not always going to get it right. I’m probably going to be insensitive and do or say or feel something racist, because implicit racial bias exists (test yourself here). And when I’m called out on getting it wrong, I need to listen some more.

So here are people you should listen to (who are also human and probably won’t get it right 100 percent of the time) and resources and organizations here in the Twin Cities working against inequality:

So where do we go from here? Finding an equitable resolution, grounded in justice, will take time and work. The grand jury has until January to bring an indictment against Officer Darren Wilson, and there are serious doubts about the ability to have an impartial judicial process. And the issues of Ferguson will continue to stretch and tangle in unexpected ways, just to remind us that we do not live single issues lives.

As for me, I’m just going to try my best to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly and take the small actions I can to create a world where everyone matters.

Photo Credit


My Professional Eureka


By Madeline Graham

My first professional eureka hit me in January 2012. I was skimming the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) job board when I stumbled upon an exciting job, and an even more exciting idea. I immediately knew I had to talk to the organization that posted the job—even if they didn’t offer it to me—because the concept it introduced—social enterprise—was everything I had been looking for. Let me explain why.

The summer after my junior year of college I was super, super excited to score my first paid internship at a Twin Cities nonprofit. In this internship I was asked to (cue ominous music…) solicit silent auction items. My supervisor told me, “Hey, call places up and ask them to give you stuff, because we’re a good cause. It’s gonna be awesome.” (That’s actually not at all what she said.)

The phone took on epic proportions. It grew so big I couldn’t lift it. It got hairy and grew fangs and occasionally hissed malevolently at me when my back was turned. In short, I realized that asking people I don’t know to give me stuff gives me legitimate anxiety. Because of this, I wasn’t sure if I could hack it at a nonprofit after graduating.*

So I graduated college and started working in customer service at a giant nationwide corporation. Guess what I did all day? I called people and asked them to do stuff they didn’t want to do. It felt just like calling people and asking them to give me stuff, except without a mission-driven cause. (I was also only allowed to use the bathroom for 9.5 minutes per day. On average. They actually tracked this.).

So I quit.

I realized I disliked working at a for-profit corporation; I needed a mission to guide me. I also felt incapable of cold calling, which made me nervous about fundraising. Career counselors and mentors throughout college had told me that it’s just as valuable to learn what you don’t like as what you do like - but where could I turn?

That’s when the seemingly innocuous job board gave me a jolt and revealed to me my professional eureka moment: You can fulfill a mission without fundraising. This magical ideal is called a social enterprise: a business whose primary purpose is the common good. In a perfect world, a social enterprise would fund itself through business income; the need for donations would be gone! I felt like I had found the thing I had been searching for, that beautiful and elusive intersection of the Venn diagram.

Even better: My self-focused excitement that developed upon finding the type of organization I would enjoy working for bloomed into more. Social enterprise also represented a structural and systems change I believed in. I learned that social enterprise envisions a world in which the economy is built on purpose, not shareholder value. Where MOST businesses work towards a social or environmental mission. Where profit means scaling, which means more impact. Where a mission-focused executive doing well financially is a sign of a successful, impactful organization, not a sign of misdirected funds. Where mission-driven organizations could publicly question ethical weaknesses in corporations without having to then turn around and ask those same corporations for funding. Being a social enterpriser means joining a movement that aims to upend the economy and the currently entrenched systems of privilege and power.

Continuing to learn about social enterprise turned my exhilarating professional eureka into my moment of obligation. I’ve had to temper my naive optimism: At this point, most people don’t even know what social enterprise is, and traditional nonprofits remain necessary. Certain missions are best fulfilled by operating on donations and grants. And most social enterprises still fundraise to supplement their earned income. The world that the social enterprise sector envisions does not yet exist.

So there is the uphill battle: doing something about it. Because doing something is what matters.

I urge you to reflect: What was your professional eureka? Your moment of obligation? Through these discoveries, what did you learn about yourself? What is the world you envision?

What is the something you are doing now?

* I recognize now that this impression was totally false. Cold calling is not a requirement of every nonprofit position–nonprofits need people with all types of strengths!

Photo Credit



How to Join a Board Without Really Trying


By Brandon Boat
Follow me on Twitter @BrandonBoat

Applications will soon be opening for spots on YNPN-TC’s Board of Directors. This is your opportunity to take a leadership role and shape the future of the organization. To help you start thinking about if a Board position is right for you, Brandon Boat put together some advice from himself and others about what it takes to join a nonprofit board. 

Board service is a great opportunity to advance your career to the next level. Whether you’re trying to network, gain more experience, or an alien trying to learn “human feelings,” joining a board of directors will provide you with new connections, a sense of fulfillment, and ownership over a mission in a way that’s very different from being an employee or volunteer.

So how can you get a spot on a board?

There are several different types of boards, and all of this advice may not be applicable in each situation. For instance, some boards are chosen by a committee and the process may be similar to a job interview. Other boards may propose candidates and have their membership vote on them. Other boards are chosen because your sister went to a better school than you and dad thinks that she deserves...ahem, excuse me. Nepotism is a different beast altogether, so we’ll leave that for a different blog post. 

For starters, you should try to get on a board that you have a preexisting relationship with. My own relationship with YNPN-TC began several years ago when I first went to one of their events. It was a great chance to meet other people in the organization and to find out more about their programming and mission. You should only join the board of an organization that you love. If you hate an organization, the other board members will resent you for trying to bring it down from the inside.

It’s also helpful to volunteer with an organization. You’ll get a chance to work with staff, and it will help inform you about how the organization operates. In my own case, my company, The Theater of Public Policy, partnered with YNPN-TC on several events over the past several years. This allowed me to learn more about their structure and operations from a hands-on perspective. 

Once you’ve landed an interview, you need to do your research. Scour websites, attend events, and conduct interviews with past board members. In my case, I happened to share the same hometown with a past YNPN-TC board president. I called him up, and we chatted about the future of the organization and what they were looking for in new board members. While you may not have that existing relationship, it’s to your benefit to meet for coffee or chat with a board member at an event. They can give you great advice and also let you know more about what the board service is like. 

Because this is the first board I’ve had the pleasure of serving on, I don’t have all the answers. So to write this blog, I asked several others to give their advice and put together a list that you can find below. Some of the information is similar to my own advice (HINT: That means it’s important) and I think the rest is valuable too. After all, it would be weird to offer terrible advice in an article like this. One last thing, always dress as a circus clown at your interviews.

Advice Section 

Carl Swanson, Board Member, YNPN-TC
Get to know who is on the board already. You are about to enter into a working relationship that oversees the success of an organization, so knowing who is there now goes a long way to having a solid working relationship going forward. It's also a good thing—especially if you are joining a board like YNPN-TC's—to ask the double-sided question of 'What am I good at?' and 'What do I want to work on?' Answering the first tells you what you bring to the table, answering the second gives you the ability to seek it out in fellow board members. 

Jaimie Millard, Board Chair, YNPN-TC
The most common advice is to pick an organization with a cause/mission you are passionate about. If you struggle with picking a cause/mission, find a board or organization with the TYPE of people you'd like to know better and build relationships with. Boards are made of people, so finding a board with people you'd want to get to know better is perfectly natural! 

Getting to know my fellow YNPN-TC boardies has been one of my favorite parts of this experience. They are all like-minded, but from diverse backgrounds and subsectors—I've learned so much from the other board people, honestly more so than the mission.

Cary Walski, Board Member, YNPN-TC
Not sure where to start? MAP for Nonprofits has a "matchmaking" program that's free for individuals who'd like to connect with nonprofits looking for board members. Sign up, and you'll be interviewed about your skills and interests, and MAP will your info on if a nonprofit is looking for a board member like you. You'll also be subscribed to receive monthly updates about board openings that might interest you at Twin Cities nonprofits. 

Kenza Hadj-Moussa, Board Member, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Our Saviour’s Community Services
Joining a board is a big commitment. Start aligning yourself with an issue or organization you care about. You can learn about the process of joining a board by contacting a board member or the executive director. Also, let your network know you're interested in joining a board to connect you to opportunities. There are also board listings on the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits job board. 

Rinal Ray, Board Member, College Possible Twin Cities and Avalon School
Show up. Go to the organization's events, fundraisers, and volunteer opportunities. Raise your hand to do work that maybe others don't want to do, maybe via a board committee. If you want to be on the boardm say it out loud, preferably to someone who might help make it happen (current board members and EDs in particular). Actually apply for the board and make sure your application is thoughtful. I'd also advise making sure you know what you're getting into—the commitment, expectations (work, time, money) and make sure it's a fit for how you want to grow and contribute. 

Diane Tran, Board Chair, Citizens League Board of Directors
Volunteering or serving on a committee is one important way to get a better sense for the work of the organization and gauge whether you'd be interested in deepening your level of commitment to advancing their mission. At the Citizens League, engaged volunteers who have cultivated their membership and involvement over time are one of the primary pools we draw from when seeking potential board members.


Political Nonprofit Pitfalls

By Holly Harrison
Follow me on Twitter: @hollharris

Working at a nonprofit says a lot about you. It’s an inherent trade off that many of us know all too well: you get to believe, really believe, in what you’re doing—and you get to do it for less money than in the corporate world. Even if your job is mostly data entry, saying you work for an organization that feeds the hungry or helps young people achieve their scholarly dreams makes you a do-gooder by default.

My workplace, like yours, provides needed services. My workplace, perhaps like yours, has a 501(c)(4) political arm. And my workplace, presumably unlike yours, has protesters outside every day.

With election season around the corner and news about elected officials, political candidates, and political staffers embarrassing themselves surfacing daily, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to work for a political organization.

Click to read more ...


Invite the World to Dinner

By Jamie Millard
Follow me on Twitter: @jjmillard 

A few weeks ago, strangers invited me into their home for dinner, and it completely changed how I understand community building.

In the nonprofit sector, we spend a lot of time discussing community building. We discuss everything from how to do it, to best practices, authenticity, intentionality, network-mapping, and lots of other jargon. 

A new experience made me see a special side to how we can approach community building—professionally and personally. I was in Fargo, North Dakota (along with 800 other people to attend TEDxFargo) and I signed up for DinnerTies—a Fargo organization that is committed to connecting travelers with Fargo locals for a dinner in their home. Translation: when visiting Fargo, you can sign up to have strangers invite you into their lives and make you a home-cooked dinner. 

Click to read more ...