Pages tagged "knowledge"

Knowing What Metrics Can (And Can't) Tell You

main.jpgDid you know that the amount of mozzarella cheese consumed in the United States correlates to the number of civil engineering doctorates awarded? It is true – check it out here (along with many other spurious correlations).  Statistics of varying ilk are everywhere, from Facebook's massive experiments on users to how we calculate the poverty line. Honestly, those numbers can be scary, especially when they are about our own performance at work. But, statistics can also be helpful in staying focused on what really matters.

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Tips for Everyday Project Management

Project Management OrganizationAs of late, I’ve been hearing a lot of requests for training on project management skills. Having been a project manager in fundraising for some years and having taken a lot of project management classes, I know that a variety of tools exist out there to guide people through project management. However, I find that even the “official” project management tools offered by the Project Management Institute, the association of professional project managers, can be overkill for everyday nonprofit projects.

So how do you sort through it all if you want to get organized? To help, I’ve pared down the list to focus on some tools that would be useful for common projects at nonprofits.

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Could You Be a Superhero in Disguise?

The following blog is by Maria Ward.

main.jpgLike many of you, I came to work in the non-profit sector because of my passion for social justice. Fresh from college and student-led advocacy groups, my head was filled with facts about inequality and injustice and my laptop plastered with bumper stickers.

When it came time to find a job aligned with my beliefs, however, I was at a loss. You can’t make a career out of just believing really, really hard in a cause, unfortunately. You have to gain some tangible skills to support the cause, skills which sometimes don’t feel all that connected to that passion that led you to nonprofits in the first place.

I tested out the nonprofit career paths that felt most connected to the passion I felt, dipping my toes in community organizing and direct service, areas where I could talk about the issues as a public figure. Much as I wanted to be the hero on the front lines, I found these jobs to be a mismatch to my personality. What kind of career could I build when I wasn’t a natural with a bullhorn or an extrovert with the energy to interact with people all day?

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Public Policy 101 for the Nonprofiteer

These days, I spend some time at the Minnesota Capitol complex. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who knows the ins-and-out of the political process and political maneuvering. I’ve realized in the last few weeks, I’ve got a ways to go before I can spout off different political scenarios and predict  how a particular piece of legislation will move through the legislature.  What I do know is that nonprofits and YOU have an important role to play in statewide policy making. Together, we can make a policy difference that will impact the lives of real Minnesotans. Most policy decisions are informed by lobbyists, interested parties, and constituents who voice their opinions to legislators. It is part of the democratic tradition and helps find real solutions to help real people.

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On relevance and innovation

I recently read a case statement for funding from my museum. It spoke about threats to arts and cultural organizations such as an uncertain economic future, a decline in federal grants, increased competition for leisure time and visitor dollars, and funders moving from general operating support to project-based grants. These are critical factors facing arts and cultural organizations, and other nonprofits, at this very moment.

The ironic part? The case statement was from 1995.

Nearly 20 years have passed and we’re still facing many of the same issues we did 20 years ago (well, what my museum faced 20 years ago. I was learning fractions in 5th grade).

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How to plan an event without losing your sanity

Event planning. Two words that strike terror into the hearts of many nonprofit professionals. All nonprofits have events that require hours of thorough planning and relentless attention to detail. And the pressure! One thing goes wrong and everyone starts talking. If you go to an event where everything looked easy… you know planning it wasn’t easy. 

Despite my aversion to event planning, I’ve done a lot of it through work and as a volunteer with YNPN’s Programming Committee. After lots of hyperventilating, I can share my tips to help minimize your event-planning pressure.

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Five Websites that Will Make You (Look) Smarter

I’m a glutton for “little tricks.” There’s something really satisfying about accomplishing things more efficiently without spending money or sacrificing quality. And while I should probably pay more attention to all those unorthodox storage solutions on my mom’s Pinterest, my favorite little tricks come in the form of online tools.

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The Retirement Game: Breaking Down Barriers for Our Future

Kids playing gameAmanda and I made the salary pact. After several vague conversations that implied our situations may be similar, we decided tiptoeing around the compensation taboo was not helping either of us.

So we promised to have these conversations, together, in an honest and open environment. To talk numbers, to ask questions, to figure out what we didn’t know and how to fix it. 

We married tough conversations and fun in the comfort of Amanda’s home. This alleviated the discomfort of sharing private information in a public place. We discussed salaries and benefits, but we quickly found our roadblock: Retirement. 

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Connect through purpose: Design doing and exercising empathy

by Leah Lundquist
follow me on Twitter: @leahlundquist

Watching fellow board member Nathan Magel’s great collection of videos focused on ideation last month got me thinking. A few years ago, the best kept secrets of the design world took off in the business world. Top managers sought to foster creative confidence in their employees and crack open space for abductive logic (what might be) amidst the deductive logic (what is) and inductive logic (what should be) that traditionally fill the work day. The fad continues. TED talks tagged with “innovation” or “creativity” still get millions of hits and best sellers on design thinking continue to fly off airport bookshelves.

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A Look Back At 2012

Last week, I did 108 Sun Salutations at my yoga studio to ring in the Winter Solstice. It’s a strenuous practice moving through the same sequence of yoga poses. Over. And Over. And Over (albeit in various states of modification and states of form) all the way to 108.

As I made by way through the sequences alongside a friend—hoping for that elusive zen moment of awesome awareness at the end of it to make up for an exhausted body—I had a moment to reflect back on the year’s milestones: nabbed my first full-time job, learned how to can tomatoes, became a YNPN blog editor, rode the St. Paul Classic with a new colleague and dear friend, and grew personally, professionally and spiritually. 

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