Capturing the spirit with a net

by Jeff Urban (guest post)
follow me on Twitter: @jeffurban

I feel very fortunate to have a number of friends that are very active and community minded individuals. Many of them I met through my years of involvement with the Leadership Twin Cities program. We get together for happy hour to try to solve the world’s problems. Okay, maybe we don’t solve problems, but we do discuss our community’s current issues and successes. After each happy hour I am:

  • Inspired and humbled by my friends and the difference they’re making in the community
  • Enlightened by the knowledge shared
  • Concerned about the difficult challenges our community faces
  • Reflective on what I could do to help
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How to Guarantee a Leadership #Fail

So I assume that you aren't reading this post because you really want to guarantee that you will fail at being a leader. However, if that is why you are reading this, well then you’ve failed because you won’t find that here. Congratulations! I guess you actually succeeded at failing?!?

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Money Matters: Understanding your organization's financial situation

By Catherine Beltmann

Nothing seems to intimidate or inspire fear in more nonprofit employees than the thought of having to read their organization’s financial statements–well except for those of us who actually know how to make those numbers make sense. At last week’s Emerging Leaders Network Lunch, we—with the help of Michael Anderson from Nonprofit Assistance Fund (NAF)—turned fiscal fear into projected growth.

I started working for the Citizens League in 2008, and only a month after being hired I found out—along with the rest of our staff—that an audit done by our new accounting firm had uncovered a deficit. It showed our expenses for the year would exceed projected income. How did we stray from the shallow end to deep financial waters? As it turns out, we’d done a really good job of raising restricted funds, but had not raised enough unrestricted funds to help cover general expenses. Our new firm determined that the financial statements we were using didn’t allow us to appropriately track our restricted and unrestricted balances.

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To Grad School or Not?

by Leah Lundquist
follow me on Twitter: @leahlundquist

Against a lot of people’s better advice, I’m cracking the old textbook spine again. Well, actually, I’m ordering my eTextbooks or searching for open-source options this time around. Wow, how much has changed since I graduated from my undergrad over four years ago! And the changes aren’t just relegated to the logistics of how much we’re willing to pay for a textbook, but the very perception of the value of a graduate degree.

It’s a valid point. Akhila Kolisetty over at Justice for All dubs it our “higher education dependency.” For too long there’s been a sense that education trumps experience, and that the best next step you can take after your undergrad degree is to enroll into a master’s program. We hear: “Do it while you have the motivation!” and “You’re not going to want to do it later.” We do it for more income, to evade the entry-level positions, to get our dream job title, to build our networks, or the potentially worst reason of all–because we just don’t know what we want to do! In 2008, a whole new reason emerged–recession dodging.

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Results-Oriented Work Environment: Can it work for nonprofits?

The following blog is by Erin Sapp.

main.jpgWhen Minnesota giant Best Buy moved to a results-oriented work environment (ROWE)—no specified working hours, just particular job outcomes to be achieved—the rest of the corporate world held its breath to see what would happen. Now, five years later, Best Buy enjoys high rates of productivity, retention and employee-satisfaction. Having worked for a variety of nonprofits, public and private clients as an independent contractor, my career has been focused primarily on the outcomes of my work, rather than the hours I punch on the clock. I believe that the time is ripe to explore if ROWE could work in the nonprofit sector.

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It: The Insider scoop

Since the landing of the economic hurricane in 2008, professional development has remained a prominent buzzword for young nonprofit professionals (YNPs). With an overwhelming number of professional development opportunities in the Twin Cities, it was great to get the inside track on some of the advanced degree programs, networking opportunities, and trainings and workshops at YNPN-TC's  Insider event.

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Deciphering Organizational Culture

main.jpgOne of my first internships in college was working for a small nonprofit. I loved the work, but something felt a little…off. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was it me? Was it my supervisor? The atmosphere felt disconnected, staff sometimes didn’t get along, and I couldn’t figure out basic norms and procedures—heck, I couldn't even tell you the dress code. What was wrong, I came to find out, was poor organizational culture.

What is it? Organizational culture, whether good or bad, is a difficult concept to comprehend. It's a mixture of written and unwritten values, norms, beliefs and practices shared by the people who make up your organization. More simply put, it’s the “personality” of your nonprofit.

Either way, it's a powerful force that dictates everything from how well you fulfill your mission to who makes the coffee in the morning.

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Strategic Engagement: Saying No, Negotiating to Yes

By Rinal Ray
follow me on Twitter: @uptownRinky

As YNPs, we have a lot to offer–fresh perspectives, young networks, eagerness to learn, and a willingness to roll up our sleeves. We’re ready to get out there and do good! And it’s that type of energy that institutions, organizations, campaigns, and people want to pull-in to their programs, boards, and outreach efforts. Win–win, right? 

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Managing work relationships: Why you should accept your boss’ friend request?

The following blog is by Dania Miwa

main.jpgFor many of us, social media can seem like a great space to vent and be totally candid about our everyday dealings. That’s why for me it’s always a struggle to give advice on when (and how) to set boundaries. How do you manage your public soapbox when the chair of your board is also a Facebook friend? Can you be yourself if your boss follows you on Twitter? Really, it all depends on your comfort level, work culture, and capacity at your organization. Nevertheless, I am of the firm belief that you can be friends with professional colleagues on your social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter)—as long as you set boundaries.

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Share and Share Alike - Knowledge Transfer in the Nonprofit Sector

by Virginia Brown
follow me on twitter: @3manypuppies

Do you talk about knowledge transfer at your office? You should. It’s a tough concept, though – how to get what's in my head out and put it in someone else's.

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