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Pages tagged "Nonprofit Sector"


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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Sharing the wisdom of our mentors: An interview with Dr. Les Lenkowsky

Lately, I’ve been focused on learning from and leading together with my YNPN peers in our local Twin Cities context. If there is anything I’ve learned in the last few years, however, it’s to keep the bigger picture in mind.

I called up my graduate school advisor and one of my all-time favorite teachers, Dr. Les Lenkowsky of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, to hear some of his take-aways from a long, full career in the social sector. Mentors provide some of the best advice and perspective on what really matters and how to stretch to do our most meaningful work. In this post, I share some of my favorite tidbits from that conversation.

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A Steep and Constant Learning Curve: Breakfast of Champions with Laura Zabel

main.jpgEarly Friday morning - so early that downtown St. Paul was just a skip along an empty I94 from Minneapolis - a group of YNPNers sat down for a Breakfast of Champions with Laura Zabel, the Executive Director ofSpringboard for the Arts. The group was a little bit timid at first – after all, we were having breakfast with a woman who has received a Visionary Leader award from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and been named one of Minneapolis Business Journal's 40 Under Forty and Minnesota Monthly’s 12 Minnesotans Who Can See the Future. But Laura’s ease, humor, and total down-to-earthness soon warmed us up. (The coffee may have had something to do with that, too.)

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Contemplating leadership: Breakfast of Champions with Timothy Clark

The following blog is by Wesley Durham.

who.jpg“Who am I” as a question often feels clichéd, relegated to the leads of sleepy winter movies, to shopping mall philosophers, to those with too much time and too little to do. “Who am I?” I’m an AmeriCorps Member. I’m an Eagle Scout. I’m a musician. I’m a hard worker and a loyal friend. What more do you need to know? Life’s too busy for idle identity contemplation. Don’t talk about who you are, be who you are. Or as I tell clients at my site as we’re working on their resumes, “Show, don’t tell.”

And yet, onsite at Urban Ventures on a Friday morning, CEO Timothy Clark reminded us all that maybe there is some room for contemplation. In fact, maybe it’s very, very important. At this YNPN Breakfast of Champions event, Clark spent a large portion of the time taking us from college graduation to taking the wheel at Urban Ventures. He did this not to trace back his ascension to “leadership” in rote fashion, but because taking this tour opened up many valuable questions, questions that can contribute to our own growth if we think hard enough on our own answers. He posed questions like “What do you stand for?” and “Do people know what you are?” Clark had many answers to such questions. Clark defines himself through authenticity. He calls himself a “quiet leader.” He is a “sheep dressed in a wolf’s clothing.” I find that last one amusingly colorful, but also illustrative in its specificity. Clark asserted that you can’t lead others unless you know yourself, and he leaves little doubt that he does.

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2013 Catalytic Leader Award: Kat Kempe

kat_kempe.jpgBack in April, Kelly Rowan wrote a YNPN blog post about the importance of recognizing leadership in our peers, and encouraged readers to nominate a colleague for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofit’s Nonprofit Leadership Awards. One of our very own YNPN members, Kat Kempe, won the Catalytic Leader award, which is given to someone who “effectively leads from the middle…, understands how to move change forward in an organization…, and has helped shape his/her organization through strategic change.” Kat works for Think Small as a Senior Policy Advocate, which entails community organizing and communications for the early childhood advocacy, education and resource nonprofit.  In their words about Kat’s award,

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(Almost) Everything I need to know about nonprofits I learned from the X-Men

SupeherosSummer is coming, and so are the superhero movies. This gets me thinking of my favorite ‘90s cartoon, X-Men. The X-Men are all “mutants,” which means they were born with “x-tra” powers built into their DNA. (The writers came up with this idea because there are only so many times ordinary citizens can fall into vats of toxic waste.)

The group was formed for the same reasons many nonprofits are – to build community and work for a better world. It is a constant battle against fear, prejudice and hatred – and it’s hard (though rewarding) work, much like nonprofit work. To stay motivated, the X-Men focus on some key ideals: standing up for their values, teamwork, and community.

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Nominate a Leader

Do you work with or know of a leader in the nonprofit sector who brings energy, passion and all-around excellence to their work? Nominate them for a Nonprofit Leadership Award!

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Is that a caucus in your neighborhood or are you just happy to see me participating?

Really? Not six weeks after an expensive and unflattering campaign season and I want to talk about elections? Yes. Absolutely. 

Because like it or not, they matter. A lot. To your 503b, your parks and trails, your public safety, and to your nonprofit career. 

Now, this could be about how we all need to be more engaged in advocating for our organizations and their missions (after all, nonprofit organizations only scratch the surface of their advocacy potential, in part due to a lack of expertise). But it's not. This is your real world PoliSci 101 - how to get involved in your local political processes - told through the story of YNPN member Josh Reimnitz, the Teach For America-alum-turned-newest-member of the Minneapolis school board. Together, Josh and I will show how you can take a few more participatory steps into our imperative albeit slightly imperfect political sphere. It'll be painless. Maybe even poetic. Just promise us you'll give it a try in 2013. 

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Breaking the Salary Silence

main.jpgThere is something taboo and mysterious about salaries. When I decided to do a salary survey of young nonprofit professionals, it was my hope to start breaking down walls of discomfort around talking about our salaries. I expected 10-20 responses and ended up getting over 100. If that’s not a sign that we’re ready to start talking about salaries, I don’t know what is.

It’s obvious from my survey, which is not scientific by any means, that there is a collective sense of feeling undervalued and underpaid throughout the sector—strongest in those with less than five years experience.

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Five Lessons From Five Minutes in Hell

I hope you were able to join us October 29 for Five Minutes in Hell, YNPN-TC’s very first member-driven event. It encapsulated the best of what this network has to offer: the ability to share our many varying interests and ideas with each other, and that we can have a damn good time while we do it. Even from my vantage point of making sure the slides ran smoothly, I was learning a lot at every turn. 

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