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Pages tagged "Organizational Culture"


Don’t Be An “Idea” Person

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ideation and implementation. Based on the ways I’ve heard nonprofiteers talk about these two concepts, it seems we’ve created a false dichotomy. How many times have you heard phrases like: 

  • “I’m no good at details. I’m more of an idea person.”
  • “He focuses on details and doesn’t see the big picture.”

To me, being a strategic, big picture thinker does not preclude you also being a project manager who tracks details like a boss. In fact, I often find that those with boots-on-the-ground implementation experience have better ideas. They are closer to the challenges and opportunities that are ripe for innovation.

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The gifs of leadership

It's been seven months since the EPIP-YNPN Leadership Institute—an intensive ten-month skill-building and networking cohort program for young nonprofit professionals—began. As a cohort, we've been teaching each other all sorts of useful things about work-life balance, tips for evaluation, ideas for managing up in our organizations, and—most recently—addressing how we can lead abundantly and resiliently. The following are five reflections I've had raised by our cohort's discussions and questions, in gif form. 

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How to Join a Board Without Really Trying

Applications will soon be opening for spots on YNPN-TC’s Board of Directors. This is your opportunity to take a leadership role and shape the future of the organization. To help you start thinking about if a Board position is right for you, Brandon Boat put together some advice from himself and others about what it takes to join a nonprofit board. 

Board service is a great opportunity to advance your career to the next level. Whether you’re trying to network, gain more experience, or an alien trying to learn “human feelings,” joining a board of directors will provide you with new connections, a sense of fulfillment, and ownership over a mission in a way that’s very different from being an employee or volunteer.

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Political Nonprofit Pitfalls

Working at a nonprofit says a lot about you. It’s an inherent trade off that many of us know all too well: you get to believe, really believe, in what you’re doing—and you get to do it for less money than in the corporate world. Even if your job is mostly data entry, saying you work for an organization that feeds the hungry or helps young people achieve their scholarly dreams makes you a do-gooder by default.

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Invite the World to Dinner

A few weeks ago, strangers invited me into their home for dinner, and it completely changed how I understand community building.

In the nonprofit sector, we spend a lot of time discussing community building. We discuss everything from how to do it, to best practices, authenticity, intentionality, network-mapping, and lots of other jargon. 

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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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Expectations versus reality: moving from a tiny to a huge nonprofit

I’m a risk-averse person, but I’ve never been bothered by jumping from a secure pond to a comparably scary ocean. I went from a small town high school with 500 students to a metropolitan college with 50,000 students. I stayed in the English speaking world while studying abroad, but the size of the city I was living in jumped from 400,000 to 8 million. And just a few months ago, I left a job at a nonprofit with 3 full-time staff to a job with…a lot of staff. Something along the order of 150 people work in my building, which is the home base of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. Dozens more work at our health centers and offices around the region, and our three-state affiliate is part of a nationwide network with global reach, which puts us at some huge number or another.

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Life Moves

The following blog is by Kristen Wolfe.

Recently I connected with a friend who had just returned from the east coast. As we broke into small talk and chatted about our lives, the all too familiar question popped up: “How are you liking your new job?”

From the way social media portrayed it, I assumed her job was nothing less than amazing and drool-worthy (those Instagram and Vine posts had to be true!). Her response quickly deflated the fantasy bubble floating above my head. “It’s okay. It’s just a job”, she said. She went on to say what a difference working in Minnesota was compared to back east. It wasn’t necessarily the job itself but the culture was less than pleasing.

As an Illinois/Chicago native and somewhat recent transplant, I could relate. When the words “passive aggressive” spilled out of her mouth, I winced and patted her arm--letting her know how much I felt her pain.

As we continued talking about work, I asked her what she was going to do next and she responded with: “I’m actually thinking about my next life move.”

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Nonprofit Growing Pains

A graduate during the recession, I held 6 nonprofit positions over 5.5 years. Do the math, and you realize very quickly that I changed jobs frequently. Over this time span, I learned to embrace change and to never get too comfortable, mastering the ability to shift gears on a moment’s notice.

Earlier this year, I hit my two-year anniversary at my current job. I just finished a huge project at this job and, after some time off, I reflected on my current situation: I felt restless.

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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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