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What I’ve learned from three years of leadership breakfasts

You might be familiar with YNPN’s Leadership Breakfast series where a different nonprofit leader hosts a group of 20 YNPN members to talk about their leadership journey and share some of the lessons they’ve learned. If you aren’t, you’re missing out!

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Dating for nonprofit professionals: it's complicated

I align with 30 Rock heroine, Liz Lemon, on most things. I, too, have a penchant for comedy and would prefer to spend my free evenings “working on my night cheese.” One place I can really relate to Liz is in her jaded stance on romantic relationships, and the fact her job often stands in the way of pursuing them. But before this blog turns into a missive on my love for 30 Rock, let me backup a little and tell you more about my decidedly non-sitcom life.

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On fundraising and the white savior complex

White people, we need to talk. Despite our talk of equity and inclusion, there is an insidious thing happening. Nonprofit fundraising still hinges on a relic of white supremacy that it seems white people are just not willing to quit.

I’m talking about the white savior complex, discussed in Nonprofit Quarterly here. The article quotes Teju Cole, who describes a white savior as someone who “supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.”

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How can you benefit from a peer mentor circle?

(A huge thank you to Lindsay Bacher, Sarah Sheldon, and Kristin Swedlund for sharing their reflections on our Peer Mentor Circle with me while I was preparing to write this blog.)

Looking for a mentor, but don’t have connections to anyone “high up” in their career? Consider forming a “Peer Mentor Circle.” What is a Peer Mentor Circle, you ask? I like to think of it as similar to a book club, but is made up of a small group of peers who have come together to act as mentors for one another.

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All the friends you didn’t know you had

There’s been a lot of really great content on the YNPN-TC blog recently; insightful, powerful, personal writing about the pressing needs of our times and the practical challenges faced in nonprofit career development. Coupled with the fact that March 20 is World Storytelling Day, I want to take a slightly different tack and talk a little bit about self-care and continued inspiration. Specifically, through podcasts.

Take a deep breath.

Imagine putting on your headphones.

And whatever you have to do, whether powering through a grant report, or logistics for a donor event, or even just your daily commute, let that melt away as you drop into a story or conversation. Experience some other perspective, get inspired, figure out how something works – that’s fuel for moving forward.

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Living into the answers

“Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” – Rilke

At Minnesota Rising, our mission is to build trust, relationships, and a shared vision for the future of Minnesota, while developing the collective capacity of the rising generation to lead collaboratively. Just how we do this has evolved over time, as we continue to inquire into and assess our strategic intent and impact. For those nonprofiteers who also value emergent learning and developmental evaluation, we offer a couple of our questions and answers.

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5 things to consider before going freelance

Going freelance has its perks: you can work in the middle of the night, take more than 2 weeks vacation, and hang out with your cat all day. About a year ago, I quit my comfortable nonprofit job (with stellar benefits) to pursue my web development dreams. Here are 5 pieces of advice I’d give anyone else looking to strike out on their own.

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Bringing restorative practices training to the masses

Though I’ve only worked in the education field for a few years, I’ve come to learn that young people have a very strong sense of justice, and they know when something’s not right. I’ve embraced Restorative Practices (RP) countless times in my work, and as an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow Leader with the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, I had numerous Promise Fellows reach out to me for RP training resources. They wanted to learn more and get some quality training they could somehow apply in their youth work.main.jpg

The more and more I searched, however, the more frustrated I became. In Minnesota, there were only a few major trainings happening the entire year, all beyond the budgets and time commitments of most of our youth workers. I wanted so badly to offer resources. I did my best, but I couldn’t deny a sinking feeling that I was letting my fellow Fellows down.

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Care about equity? Then let's talk about salary!

main.jpgFrom Ellen Pompeo to Mo’Nique, pay equity is big news right now. I have been following this topic avidly as a young professional who is still learning to believe in her worth and fighting to be paid accordingly. I have had some of these conversations about worth with one of the women I most admire, Jamie Millard. Forever ahead of the curve, Millard  touched on this very same topic in breaking the silence in nonprofit salaries back in 2012. Even now in 2018, the men and women of Hollywood are creating a spreadsheet basically identical to that which Millard  crowdsourced for us YNPs. Because the topic remains fresh, here’s the most recent edition of the Minnesota Nonprofit Salary and Benefits Survey, which has also helped me put my salary and skills in context.

Still, of all the stories of women fighting to receive their worth, the one that most sticks with me is the solidarity of Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer. As Chastain  explained on her Twitter: “[Octavia] had been underpaid for so long. When I discovered that, I realized that I could tie her deal to mine to bring up her quote. Men should start doing this with their female costars.”

In the social media circles I frequent, Chastain’s actions were praised as a brilliant show of allyship, solidarity, and feminism in action. She found something concrete to do with her privilege and took action. I have benefitted from similar help here and there, but I would like to see more of this kind of solidarity in the nonprofit world.

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Cataloguing my battle scars

main.jpgI was getting texts from a married dude in the middle of the night, and not surprisingly, I didn’t even think of going to HR.

I worked for a museum at the time, and the Twin Cities were hosting the major conference for our industry. It was my first full-time professional job, and my museum was hosting an evening event for the conference. During the course of the conference, I met a bunch of people and invited them to our event to be friendly and welcoming. I even gave out my cell number so people could connect and get directions or more information. It didn’t even occur to me that someone would abuse that.

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