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Event Recap| Scattershot Cafe

main.jpgSummer weekends are revered in the Twin Cities - free festivals, lake and trail adventures, flex Fridays, and Vitamin D replenishment - yet a few dozen YNPN members and potential members spent part of their Saturday, May 19 at one of 11 coffee shops throughout Minneapolis and Saint Paul to network in their neighborhood.

Inaugurally organized in a more grassroots effort to engage members in a uniquely formatted way on a new day of the week, the Scattershot Cafes gave attendees the opportunity to really dig into a topic and connect with a smaller group of people. Coffee talk topics ranged from community-based topics for transplants and former AmeriCorps members to advanced professional development talks on starting a nonprofit consulting firm and how to worry less about the financial state of nonprofits.

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It's conference time! (Don't blow it.)

main.jpgAs I write this, I'm three days away from Washington, D.C., and the 50th Annual League of Women Voters National Convention. And I'm freaking out a bit. You see, I have sporadic bouts of conference anxiety, wondering if and how I can make the most of the wisdom, opportunity, connections and expense that's packed into those few days or few hours. Add to my angst the rapidly approaching Minnesota Conference of Nonprofits Leadership Conference on June 26, and it's been a stressful start to summer. 

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Leveling Up: Video games for professional development

My friends know that I don’t have a lot of time for video games anymore, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t select mornings when I wake up at 4:00 a.m. to get a few hours of pew pew pew in before heading to work. Originally I thought part of my career would be to build awareness of female gamers, and I did get one article published, “Why Women Play Games,” in a nonprofit magazine. While passion for games helped introduce me to nonprofit publishing, it wasn’t until writing this post that I realized just how much my virtual worlds have helped max out my real-life XP bar. 

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Conversations That Count: Appreciative Inquiry and Cascading Conversations

main.jpgOne of my favorite theoretical concepts is that of linguistic determinism, or the idea that language and its structures limit and determine human knowledge or thought. Our classic Minnesota example is the various types of precipitation we encounter in the winter. We are able to refer to the white stuff as slush, wintry mix, and sleet -- whereas others in warmer climates might only be able to name it snow. 

The idea that we can only understand the purposes or capacities of things insofar as we have been introduced to them should urge us to dream up new ways to relate to and interact with everything around us. It matters not only to our ability to repurpose vases as drinkware when the rest of the dirty cups are in the sink, but also to the creativity and vision we can have for our lives and the communities we call home.

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Part 1: Digging in the Bush

As I waited for my interview in an inconspicuous section of Loring Pasta Bar—which seemed eerily perfect for having big conversations with important people—I read over the blog post that caused a number of nonprofit and foundation water coolers to gurgle this past January. Maybe it was the suddenness of it all or the vagueness surrounding Peter Hutchinson’s announcement of him stepping down as president of the Bush Foundation. Wherever your mind took you, it was clear that there were some ripe lessons to be picked from a man who considers his sudden departure just the way he does business.

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Conference Hero: Four tips to grabbing that speaking slot

It’s conference season in Minnesota’s nonprofitland, and how to present at them is a hot topic at YNPN, such as at last month’s Emerging Leaders Networking lunch. A recent e-news piece of ours offers some great tips on how to make your presentation shine once you’re doing one, but how does a young nonprofit professional secure a gig like that in the first place? 

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Let’s talk: A love/hate relationship with conversation

We emerge into this world through conversation—an exchange of words that danced between our fathers and mothers. Conversation is the universal tool we use to attract some of the priceless things we desire out of life: understanding, insight, happiness, friendship, solace, love, and more.

In our work as nonprofit professionals, conversation is also our go-to for addressing topics affecting our society and sector: lack of diversity and inclusion, racism, achievement gap, homelessness, intergenerational workplaces…the list goes on. Yet in all our casual and suited-up exchanges, are we really moving the needle toward transformational change, or are we just talking ourselves in circles?

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Step outside your comfort zone and up to the challenge

by Amanda Bingham
follow me on Twitter: @amanda_l_b 

Writing this blog post has been hard for me. For the past two days, I’ve been asking myself “What do I have to offer the nonprofit community?” (I’ve also been asking myself “Why did I wait until two days before the deadline to start the post?”) I don’t even work for a nonprofit—I work for a company that works with nonprofits. So here I am, young in my non-nonprofit career and trying to write a blog post for other nonprofit professionals…talk about stepping out of my comfort zone. (Cue my blog topic a-ha moment.)

One day, hopefully in the not too distant future, I will work for a nonprofit. Being a force for positive change in the world has been my dream for as long as I can remember. To start meeting other nonprofit pros and learn about Minnesota nonprofits, I joined YNPN-TC. I increased my commitment by becoming a YNPN-TC volunteer. When given the opportunity to lend a hand at events or lend my words to the blog, I signed up for that too. Putting myself out there as a voice for the nonprofit community, while still trying to find my place in it, has all been a little terrifying.

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Reality check: Volunteering your way to a job

Will Volunteer for WorkIf you’re a job seeker, chances are you’ve heard this piece of advice: “You should volunteer! It’s a great way to get a job!”

Help the world while also helping yourself get your next paying gig? It sounds pretty great to a do-gooding nonprofit professional. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as many advice-givers make it out to be. Yes, volunteering can help lead you to employment opportunities, but it’s often a long and indirect process. The chances of finding a job through the sheer act of volunteering are slim.

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Making Mentorship Work | Finding Relationship Awesomeness

Mentorship was a hot topic at YNPN’s Turn It Up to 11 event last November and continues to be on the minds of our board as we look toward the future of YNPN and our own personal career paths. Just as YNPN looks to other organizations to show us next steps, we members can do the same in our personal lives and careers by choosing mentors who have collected knowledge, experience and finely honed talents we admire and hope to emulate in the future.

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