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The magic key that will transform the nonprofit sector

main.jpgWe’ve all heard it, I’m sure. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Right?

Whether or not you’ve heard this aphorism, I’d be willing to bet you’ve experienced it. I sure have – in different sizes and types of organizations, and in different ways within those organizations.

But never have I been more frustrated by this truth than when it relates to the lack of a culture of philanthropy in a nonprofit.

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Thanks for coming to work

giphy-simpsons.gifFirst YNPN blog post of 2017. First thought: You survived 2016.

We may be battered from a rough year (don’t even get me started on why… you’re already on the internet, so it should be clear as day).

But thanks for coming back to work.

It’s easy for work to feel just like … well, work. But being a part of a nonprofit, you are the starry-eyed workhorse that has been seeking justice and impacting our community every day. And not everyone has the same opportunity to do that as a job.

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On baseball & building a team

main.jpgI don’t really follow sports, so the bulk of my athletic knowledge comes from movies. (I watched my mom’s beloved Cubs win the World Series this fall with at least part of my brain thinking, “Oh, they’re playing baseball, like in A League of Their Own.”) When I caught up recently with the 2011 film Moneyball, based on the book about the use of sabermetrics in baseball, I wasn’t expecting to care much about its stats-heavy story -- much less find an analogy that I’ve returned to frequently in my life. But the movie’s central concepts have continued to come up in my work when I think about team-building and what I and my colleagues bring to our jobs.

Moneyball’s story focuses on Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), general manager of the struggling Oakland A’s and a former MLB player himself. As a high school student, we see in flashbacks, he was singled out by major-league scouts impressed by his well-roundedness: He was equally good at hitting, running, and fielding. That promise led him to give up a scholarship to Stanford… but then his big-league career fizzled.

moneyball.gifThe insight that eventually leads to the Oakland team’s success under Billy Beane is this: Players who are good at everything don’t necessarily help a team win. Scoring the most runs is what really matters, and players getting on base is what helps teams score runs. The most important stat in this view is “on-base percentage” -- so a player who draws a lot of walks could be more valuable than a power hitter who’s inconsistent.

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Lessons learned from binge-watching tv shows

main.jpgThe other day, I was asked about my favorite winter activity. My obvious answer was being inside, sipping on a warm drink, and binge-watching TV shows. While my response was met with laughter, I was being serious. In addition to Minnesota winters being the worst (and don't act like they're not...), there is just something about losing myself in a high-quality TV series that I find so enjoyable. 

Outside of taking a much-needed break from reality every once in a while, I’m convinced that watching these TV shows is actually helping me become a better nonprofit leader. I know that might sound silly or even ridiculous, but hear me out! With the right lens and mindset, there is a lot we can take away from some of TV’s best characters. So, here is a list of some of my favorite characters and what we can learn from them. And don’t worry, this is free of any major spoilers.

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Paid Vs Unpaid Internships

main.jpgHave you had an internship experience that was unpaid? For many of you, especially those in the nonprofit sector, that answer will be yes. According to a 2010 study by Intern Bridge, Inc., 57 percent of internships at nonprofits were unpaid, compared with 48 percent in government and 34 percent at for-profit businesses.

YNPN Twin Cities has teamed up with leading capacity building nonprofit organizations, Pollen Midwest, Springboard for the Arts and Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, to change the way that paid and unpaid internships are promoted on online job boards and within our sector. Now on MCN’s, Springboard for the Arts’, and Pollen Midwest’s job boards, paid internships will be listed separately from unpaid internships, which will be found in a different section or with the volunteer opportunities. This change allows internship seekers to search only for paid internships and promotes to the nonprofit sector that paid internships will attract more competitive, qualified candidates. YNPN Twin Cities approached these three capacity building organizations to make this change because we saw our members and college students had a difficult time sorting between unpaid and paid opportunities - a big difference when you’re building your work experience.

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Come have lunch with me

main.jpgCome have lunch with me. 

No, seriously, it’s really that simple. I want you to come have lunch with me.

Let me tell you my reasoning behind that.

As nonprofit professionals, we understand the benefit of community and how it helps make our work meaningful. Many of us have seen first-hand how awe-inspiring it can be to have the feeling that our work is so much more impactful when it is community-led and community-driven. YNPN ensures that community building has the components of diversity, inclusion, and access in order to guide our actions and programming as YNPN members. However, how often are we individually undertaking these values in our own professional and personal lives? The idea is simple to understand but much more difficult to execute.

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Take Time to Read the NPQ & YNPN Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Reader

Some of you may remember a call last year by Nonprofit Quarterly and YNPN National to contribute articles to their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion reader. Throughout 2016, they’ve been publishing these incredible articles from young professionals, ranging from topics of representation in volunteer groups to doulas to looking at the structure of evaluation to supporting the ever mythical nonprofit unicorn: executive directors of color. You may ever recognize some of the authors - Al Heartly gave a dynamic presentation at 2016’s Five Minutes in Hell.

So read some articles, share with your coworkers, and let these thoughtful perspectives sink into your daily work in meaningful ways. The full list of articles is here or you can read them one by one:

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Navigating the world when your brain just doesn’t feel like it: How one YNPNer juggles work and mental health

*Disclaimer: This blog post represents the views and experiences of the author only. It is in no way an attempt to diagnose or treat!

main.jpgA day doesn’t go by where my purse isn’t fully stocked with either ginger candies or ginger mints – they are my go-to when I start to feel sick and my anxiety skyrockets. My dad’s phone is always on loud and right by his bed – he wakes up really early, which is usually when my panic attacks come on, so he wants to make sure he hears his phone if I call needing help. I just bought a super plush mattress topper – I don’t sleep much at night (regardless of comfort level), but for the days when I can’t muster the energy to get out of bed, it’s a lifesaver.

My story is like so many others – although my combo may be different, I happen to suffer from depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and emetophobia (a phobia of throwing up – who knew that was a thing?). Mental health affects so many, and I can’t imagine our sector is any different. And with many of our jobs requiring multiple hats, long hours, and tight deadlines, stress can only exacerbate it.

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We couldn't do a #gtmd16 without gifs

Give to the Max Day is November 17, 2016!

Let me share a few gifs about how I feel about YNPN Twin Cities members:

Our goal is to have 100 people to donate to YNPN Twin Cities on #GTMD16. Will you be one of them?

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YNPN Twin Cities: You are valued. You are welcome here, just as you are.

At YNPN Twin Cities, our values are to strive for respect and inclusiveness, to seek opportunities to collaborate, and to respond to the evolving needs of our community. YNPN Twin Cities has always and will continue to stand in solidarity with all of our members. It should go without saying, but hate, discrimination, racism and sexism is never acceptable and will not be tolerated by YNPN Twin Cities.

This election has caused a wide range of feelings and reactions by our members, our community and our nation, including shock, fear, grief, anger, and a loss of justice. We validate and respect those feelings. Self-care is hard in nonprofit work, and we encourage you to take care of yourself now more than ever, whatever that looks like.

To all of our members, the Twin Cities community, and our peers across the country: We see you. You are valued. We believe you. You are welcome here, just as you are. You are loved.

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Our mission, vision and values guide all that we do at the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities (YNPN-TC).

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