From Sideline to Frontline: Taking the Plunge

main.jpgIt's hard to believe it was only a year ago that I began volunteering with the YNPN-TC Programming Committee. The truth is, though, that I dabbled with the idea of joining YNPN-TC a lot sooner. I just didn't have the gumption to take the plunge.

I've been working in the nonprofit sector since I graduated from college. Fortunately, the supervisors I've had throughout the years have been incredibly supportive and encouraged me to pursue professional development opportunities whenever possible.

The problem was I didn't have a clue where to start looking for these opportunities. So, naturally, I did what anyone would do to find the answer to this question: I Googled it. And when I hit the search button, I got a ton of results, but the top ones featured this group called Young Nonprofit Professionals Network-Twin Cities.

I was impressed by the description of the organization and the extensive programming it had to offer. Most impressive, though, was the fact that this group was all volunteer-based.

Although I was quite charmed with YNPN-TC, I didn't subscribe to the newsletter or attend any of the events. Instead, I took a very Minnesotan approach: I followed the social feed and bookmarked the website so I could easily (and discretely) check it on occasion to see what was happening in the Twin Cities. 

This wasn't sustainable, though. If I wanted to make any headway with my professional development and do so with YNPN-TC, I had to muster up some courage and register for an event, even if it meant attending alone. I was done watching from the sidelines. I signed up to attend the "Dollar by Dollar" event, which focused on philanthropy and young professionals. Perfect.

After I registered, I received a personalized welcoming email from one of the board members. I think it was the email that first made me seriously consider joining YNPN-TC. The sender was friendly, inviting, and said he looked forward to meeting me at my first event. That email held me accountable; I needed to show up. 

I connected with some pretty awesome people, including the person who sent me the welcoming email. We met for coffee and that started a chain reaction of introductions and invitations to other board members.

Despite the enthusiasm and encouragement I received, I was still a little anxious about the thought of joining a committee. Would this actually set me on my desired trajectory? Is collaboration truly valued? The only way to find out was to attend a meeting. Well, I attended a Programming Committee meeting and I was hooked. This was the right way to grow with the sector and help me stay on top of my game.

My involvement with YNPN-TC jumped to another level a few months later when I took advantage of a Member Benefits opportunity. I applied for and accepted a scholarship to attend the Nonprofit Technology and Communications Conference. It happened to be my first nonprofit conference and I learned some pretty significant lessons from this experience that I got to share with my fellow nonprofit pros. 

Now fast-forward through the rest of 2014 to the present day. I've hit a new milestone with YNPN-TC: I'm currently serving as a board member. I feel pretty lucky to have had such a great experience, but I realize it's turned out this way because I chose to be a little vulnerable in the interest of finding the right fit for my professional development needs. I learned a lot about YNPN-TC when I simply followed from afar, but I wasn't making the connections I wanted or finding resources to help me improve my skills as a communications professional. 

If I could go back in time and do anything differently, I would leap sooner. But since time travel isn't possible (yet), I hope my experience can help others who are in a similar boat. You know the old adage, "Do as I say, not as I do?" That definitely applies here: I encourage you to do what I didn't do right away. Register for an event. Ask questions. Connect with someone who's a current volunteer or a board member. I guarantee it's better to take part rather than watch passively. After all, what's the worst that could happen?

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.


see more

get in touch

We'd love to hear from you! Email us or reach out to us on social media.

about us

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

learn more

© 2006 - 2015 Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities

Web Development: Metre

Photo Credit Marie Ketring (Unless Otherwise Specified)
Created with: NationBuilder