Figure Your S#!t Out: A Night of Improv, Action, and Planning What to Do Next
Wednesday, Jan. 28th
5:30-7:30 pm
Sisyphus Brewing, Minneapolis 

Nonprofit Pairings: The Sweet and Sour of the Sector
Tuesday, Feb. 17th
5:30-8:00 pm
Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul


* 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:

● 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.



“Your Position Is Being Eliminated”

By Kate Borman
Follow me on Twitter: @K8Borman

I wish I could say I have never heard those words before, but since I started my career in the midst of a recession, I have had the unfortunate circumstance of being laid off twice. The reasons were very different, but the loss was the same. I felt like I was the missing puzzle piece in an otherwise complete picture.

Losing your job is much like losing anything of value - you have to go through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is natural to feel these emotions, and I have found that with job loss, stages two through four feel most relevant. You feel cheated (and perhaps angry) toward your employer; then transition to feel like it was your fault, that you could have done something different, or that you were the problem. While it is okay to feel these emotions, it also makes your job search that much harder. While these negative emotions may tear you down, you have to constantly think positive in order to sell yourself.

A layoff feels different than the normal job search process. Oftentimes you seek a new job on your own terms with a mindset that you want something better. I have gained many life lessons going through layoffs, and I am here to tell you that your mindset after a layoff SHOULD be the same as if you’re searching for a job on your own terms. Always have the mentality that your next opportunity WILL be better than the last. But, if you’re stuck in a rut, it will take work and serious dedication to change your thoughts. Here are some tips:

  1. Be your own champion -- don’t settle for less. Because your income has dramatically shifted, even with unemployment wages, it is easy to feel like you should accept the first offer you get just to be paid. Wait until the job feels right, otherwise you will be in a situation that may result in a job search all over again. Despite the layoff not being on your terms, you can still identify areas in which you want to grow. Perhaps it is a time to reevaluate your career and ask yourself, “Is this where I want to be?” Take this valuable surplus of time to focus on what you need to make your future employment and self better.
  2. Keep your mind engaged and active. Unemployment is like an illness; people will treat you differently. Many say a layoff is the best job search scenario because it was out of your control. I am not sure I agree. Employers still prefer those who are employed. Additionally, several friends and family members will not be able to relate to your new situation. You now have plenty of time but no money to churn. Find ways to keep your mind engaged - maybe through volunteer work or by picking up that hobby you have always wanted to dedicate time to.
  3. Build your safety net and support system. While many will have a hard time relating to your new situation, you will quickly notice those who will go out of their way to send you job postings or will volunteer to be a reference. Or maybe they will be the ones to treat you to lunch and let you just vent about the process. Either way, you will find a new support system. Just be sure to thank them and return the favor if the time comes.

Layoffs are difficult, there is no easy way to say it. The average job search process is roughly nine months, and there will be many struggles and defeats along the way. But don’t give up the fight, because your next golden opportunity is out there. I believe it for me and I believe it for you too.

Photo Credit


Looking When You’re Not Looking

By Jared Rendell
Follow me on Twitter: @jaredrendell

I’m learning something in life, over and over again. I’m learning that a lot of the best things happen when you’re not looking for them. Maybe you’ve heard this from people before, sometimes in the context of romantic relationships. It’s a classic; they were seeking hard, and missing, and failing, and trying harder, and missing bigger, and the whole time the best thing was right under their nose. Common denominator in these situations? Stop looking.

This is the kind of situation that played out when I made a major job change a few months ago. I got a message from the interim executive director of the faith-based nonprofit where my wife works asking if I could help them with the new website they needed on the heels of a big shift in focus. (I’d been building websites and coaching people on digital strategy on the side for a couple of years.) I happily scheduled a time to chat with her. At that time I’d been working for a large nonprofit financial services organization, in many ways the opposite of this small nonprofit ministry. I scheduled the call during lunch and hopped into a huddle room. Here’s how the conversation began: 

ED: “Hey Jared, thanks for making time to chat.”
Me: “You’re welcome. I’m excited to see how I can help. I know things are shifting quite a bit there.”
ED: “Are you at a place you can talk? Is the door closed?”
ME: “Uh, give me a second…(closes door)… Alright, I’m all set.”
ED: “How much do you like your job?”

That wasn’t quite what I expected. They weren’t just looking for website help. They were looking for some to lead their digital strategy, and then help dozens of churches and other ministries make an impact through smart digital engagement and relationship building. I’m now four months in to that thing I wasn’t looking for –and I love it. I hadn’t been looking, but soon I was able to return to working from home, which works great with two kinds at home. 

So, as I learn this lesson over and over again, here are a few ideas I’m going to employ for the rest of my life. Maybe they hit home for your current situation.

1. Stop looking
This is hard, especially if you aren’t satisfied with the current state. The job, the relationship, the house, whatever it is. Let me make sure to clarify: I am not saying don’t apply or don’t go to the open house. I am saying take a break from the dissatisfaction, stress, and whirlwind. Settle in and try to embrace confidence in the future, even though it’s blurry at best.

2.  Always be looking
That sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? One of my most influential mentors worked as an executive director at one nonprofit camp for just shy of 20 years. He told me, as he was getting ready to begin a new role, that he interviewed at different places at least twice a year most years he was at the camp. If you are open to the idea of something amazing ahead, and even go so far as to take the first steps, one of two things will happen: You’ll either go, and it will be amazing, or you’ll have affirmation that you are right where you belong, at least for the moment.

3.  Ask others to look
Help your tribe foster an attitude of constantly keeping an eye out for opportunities that might be amazing for you, and most definitely return the favor. Ask them to keep an eye out for you personally and professionally, and seek out places where your puzzle piece fits perfectly. 

Have you got stories of incredible things happening when you weren’t looking? Share one in the comments, and happy looking. And not looking.


Lessons Learned From The Lentil Underground

By Chris Oien
Follow me on Twitter @coien

I spent this year’s holiday break doing something a bit unusual—reading a newly-published book about my dad’s life work. Lentil Underground tells the story of farmers in Montana who rejected the industrial, pesticide-heavy trends in agricultural and charted a new, sustainable, organic course (before organic was even a word Montana recognized). My father plays a lead role in this story as a lead recruiter of others to the cause and as CEO of Timeless Seeds, the business enterprise that the movement grew into.

Reading someone else’s chronicle of your dad could be an unusual experience at times: apparently he has the carefree-but-earnest jocularity of a fifties sitcom?!? But it did get me thinking: how much of my life can I see in my dad’s experiences? Does the Minnesota nonprofit world have much in common with some organic farmers in Montana? After a little reflection, I think it does! Here are a few lessons from the farmstead that I hope can offer you some insights into both the organic food business and the world of nonprofits:

Work within your environment, not against it

One of my dad’s biggest early breakthroughs was finding that a plant commonly considered a weed could instead be a great source of natural fertilizer if rotated properly in fields. Instead of artificial means that strip nutrients out of the soil every year, farmers could use what was already growing around them to restore their land—and save on fertilizer costs to boot.

This struck me as an almost uncanny analogy for nonprofit work. In so many communities nonprofits serve, the issues we seek to address are caused by outsiders coming in and upending those communities for their own needs, with little thought to the damage that could follow. If we want to lift up those communities, we have to turn to the resources within them, and stop reading from the rulebook that caused the damage to begin with.

Your allies are those who share your goal

Which isn’t necessarily the same as those who share your politics or your personal background. In some ways my dad fits the profile of someone you’d find in Berkeley, not rural Montana: he studied philosophy and religion in college, and he includes a peace symbol alongside his signature. But to spread the organic movement in Montana, he needed the help of gun-toting libertarians and those who chose to tend the family farm over going to college at all. That meant speaking their language—the right to keep pesticides off their property—nstead of his own.

Failing to put ourselves in the shoes of others is one of the most common pitfalls nonprofits face. We need to ask each other how we can work together instead of telling others how to work with us.

Sustainability is about more than soil

Timeless Seeds’ first big break came when they got a large order from a big national grocer. They built new facilities and ramped up production only to be left holding the bag when the grocery chain abruptly pulled the line without warning. It took some scrambling to avoid going under, but Timeless rebuilt and took the lesson to heart. The next time a national grocer called, they again ramped up facilities and production to meet demand, but this time put a strategy in place to make that growth count. Through better branding and outreach to smaller grocery stores and co-ops, they were ready to keep their momentum strong even when this second grocery chain also suddenly discontinued their product line.

The first part of this story probably sounds all too familiar to any nonprofit that suddenly faces a shift in priorities from a funder. The shift to building brand awareness and grassroots support can be the best answer for nonprofits and organic food peddlers alike.
In conclusion

So maybe the rural organic grain business and the urban nonprofit community do have a few things in common. I’d say what it most comes down to is a question of values. If you set out to truly do good in this world (and to do so with a good dose of humility and appreciation for the environment in which you work) there are some (ahem) timeless truths that you can take with you anywhere you go.


Hello to Good-bye (A Treatise on Transitions)

By Diane Tran

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ― Lao Tzu

Emergence as evolution

As the founder of Minnesota Rising, a generationally-based group, I’m often asked about the point at which our Millennial generation will no longer be referred to as, “emerging,” but could be considered “emerged.” While there will be a point in time at which, as individuals and as a cohort, we could be said to have moved on from the “emerging leader” moniker, that is not to refute that our journey and learning is lifelong and thus we will always be emerging into the next experience. For this reason, it will be increasingly valuable to have a sustaining generational cohort to help us mark, grieve, and celebrate transitions, and with whom we will be able to note our progress as individuals and as a group.

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Dear Giacomo: First Impressions

By: Giacomo Crostini

Original artwork by Taylor Baldry

Nonprofit master Giacomo Crostini is here to answer all your burning questions about life in the nonprofit sector. Email him at for advice and guidance.


Dear Giacomo, 

Happy new year! I’ve just landed a new job at a nonprofit that I really love. I’m so excited! I’m also a little nervous about making a good first impression with my colleagues and supervisors. Any advice? 


Nervous, Excited, and Ready Dude

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