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Facing partnership overload? The good and bad of our collaboration culture

As nonprofit employees in one of the friendliest states in the nation, we can’t help it—we love collaborating. In most cases, this is a really, really good thing (there’s a reason why “Allied for Action” is the theme of the MCN/MCF conference this year). We solve problems faster and gain unexpected knowledge from the best collaborations. I’m currently part of a multi-organization partnership that is firing on all cylinders, and it’s incredibly motivating.

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How can your nonprofit engage voters this election season?

ElectionThis month’s Emerging Leaders Networking lunch featured Jeff Narabrook and David Zeller speaking on the subject of nonprofits and voter engagement. Many 501c3 nonprofit organizations err on the side of caution because they want to guard carefully their right to perform mission-related work as a tax-exempt organization eligible to receive tax-deductible gifts. Either public charities (aka 501(c)(3) nonprofits) do not know that they can or do not know the extent to which they can participate in the political process.

Federal law, as it stands, does not forbid public charities from involvement with government. The problem, as outlined in the book A Voice for Nonprofits, is that 501c3s are not actively engaging in the political process and speaking for their constituents to the extent that they are allowed by law.

So what can a nonprofit do to provide valuable information to the public in an election year without jeopardizing its 501(c)(3) status?

*Disclaimer: I am not an expert, lawyer, or IRS  employee (although I consulted and learned from a few to write this post), so please do the proper research before acting on what you read here!

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Sweet tweetins: Balancing personal and professional on social media

Remember the collective freakout that happened once the world realized that employers could see what prospective employees posted on social media? All those pictures of young professionals making poor decisions vanished, along with their capslocked tweets about how they wished their bosses would die in car fires.

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The Nonprofit Olympics

main.jpgSo what do the Olympics have to do with working in a nonprofit anyway?

I unabashedly love the Olympics! The global spirit, ceremony, fanfare, and anticipation of athletes representing far corners of the world stir in me excitement, joy and wild rooting usually reserved for strategic planning! Seriously. As I’ve been watching the games these last two weeks, I have marveled at the supernatural feats of Olympians. But I know they are just humans – at the top of their game.  In addition to their raw talent, incredible commitment, endurance, and strength, I also admire how they play the game, their triumphs and defeats.

There’s a lot we young nonprofit professionals can take away from the Olympics.

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What's in it for Me? The benefits of a national network

Co-written by Jamie Millard and Chris Oien

Earlier this month was the YNPN National Conference, where almost 100 YNPN'ers from around the country gathered in San Francisco to swap stories and share ideas. Four of us from the Twin Cities represented, where we both shared the awesome things we're up to and took home a lot of new ideas to apply here. But enough about us! You too should value and take take advantage of the fact that YNPN is thriving in many cities around the country. Here are five reasons to care:

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The Scoop| News from Our Members

What's the scoop in August? YNPN-TC members have news articles, promotions, and other big accomplishments to share.

Here's what's new with our members this month:

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Navigating shifting seas: Thriving during workplace changes

If you’ve had any interaction with a nonprofit over the past five years, you know that it’s a time of never-ending change. Realignments, redistribution of talents, tightening belts, cutting costs, closing organizations, rebirth of organizations, shifting departments, shifting responsibilities — the list goes on and on. You may find yourself doing a completely different job than when you began, or you may be the new guy or gal who’s come on board as a result of these changes. So how do you navigate shifting seas? How do you choose your battles and still manage to stay afloat?

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How to make better decisions with stakeholder engagement

main.jpgStakeholder engagement. There’s some nonprofit jargon that can easily overwhelm anybody. But it’s really just about who to involve in decision making, when to involve them, and at what level - all pieces that are essential to working with clients and others. 

As a nonprofit consultant at Aurora Consulting, I talk with my colleagues about stakeholder engagement in relation to organization assessments, program evaluation, strategic planning, nonprofit governance, and many other areas. The questions of who needs to be heard from, what quality of information we need, how important consensus is, where will authority lie all become very important. 

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How to participate in politics while maintaining professionalism in the workplace

main.jpgIt’s 2012. Can I get political or do I have to keep it under wraps if I call myself a professional? 

A life of service in nonprofits often means addressing quality of life issues in the places we live and for the people and communities we serve. (Sometimes, it’s animals, trees or water we’re saving.) Even if you aren’t working on issues pertaining to people or for a political advocacy organization per se, the initiatives you support most likely have politics written all over them. As election season rolls around, your first instinct may be to jump right in and wave a flag of support for the issues on the ballot you care about most.

There is nothing wrong with showing your true colors, but how can you do that and still maintain professionalism in the workplace? 

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Takeaways from Trish

Highlights of a visit from YNPN's National Director

Many of you met Trish Tschume, YNPN’s National Director, during her visit to the Twin Cities last month. Trish participated in our Leadership Story Swap event, presented at the Nonprofit Leadership Conference and joined YNPN-TC board members and volunteers at an informal potluck. I asked our members to reflect on Trish’s time here in the cities and share their biggest takeaways from her visit.

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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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