Going forward with purpose: our new strategic plan

While 2017 brought activities and events to the YNPN-TC calendar as usual, a quieter but no less important process took place behind the scenes: strategic planning.

YayAt the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities, we’re dedicated to providing and promoting opportunities for the development of young nonprofit professionals. Acting strategically helps us achieve our mission by ensuring we provide relevant opportunities in ways that support our members’ growth. Developing and basing decisions around a strategic plan also equips our board of directors with skills and knowledge to invest in YNPN-TC and share throughout our careers.

Board member and strategic planning coordinator LaCora Bradford Kesti explains:

The strategic plan was a very intentional process to allow for YNPN-TC board members to think broadly and boldly about where we want to be three years from now. One major theme that rang clear from the board was to be more intentional about using an equity, diversity and inclusion lens in all aspects of our work. By using this lens I believe YNPN-TC will continue to be a force in the nonprofit sector.

We had a few other reasons for making a plan:

  • To model what the process is like to our members, volunteers and board of directors
  • To hone in on priorities to improve our organization, sector and community
  • To stay current -- our previous strategic plan was created in 2014

So what did we come up with?

Here’s the plan!

YNPN-TC will become a sector-shaping organization through member experience, EDI (equity, diversity & inclusion), organizational leadership, and resource and infrastructure development.

2018-2010 Strategic Plan

[download a PDF]  [read a text version]

The plan is organized into four sections with equal importance in our development as a sector-leading organization. The quadrants cover the range of things YNPN-TC does -- programming, communications, member engagement, governance and internal planning. All of the areas support our mission, from building up our strong, values-based financial model to prioritizing the retention of diverse membership and leadership.

The mission and vision of YNPN-TC haven’t changed. We’ve just clarified how we’ll accomplish our goals in the next three years.

We’re proud of this plan! It reflects our mission, vision and values. And we can’t wait to put it into practice.

How we'll use it

We see strategy as a constant partner to getting things done. Whether planning the monthly Breakfast of Champions or choosing images for Instagram, we’ll be inspired by the framework and principles of our strategic plan. Each of us has the opportunity to carry forward YNPN-TC’s work in a strategic way, from volunteers to… well, volunteers. (As a volunteer-led organization, that’s pretty much the range. And it’s awesome.)

Make a difference

Counting responsiveness as one of our values, we know we’ll grow, learn and evolve over the next three years. So will this strategic plan. We may focus on different areas at different times; when new opportunities come up, we’ll execute the plan in different ways.

That said, there are a few ways we’ll definitely incorporate it.

First, our volunteer committees create annual straggles -- strategic goals -- that guide our activities. The strategic plan serves as a framework within which each committee has freedom to choose its priorities. If you’d like to be part of that process, check out our January and February committee meetings! You can try Communications/Membership, Governance and/or Programming. Get plugged in.

Second, we use the plan in the elections process for new board members. For example, one of our priorities is to hold EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion) at the center of decision-making procedures. Our elections team included commitment to EDI-centered decision-making as a key criterion in the process.

Finally, our communications channels will be inspired by the strategic plan both in form and content. Our blog includes blog posts written by people like you -- members of YNPN-TC and the broader community -- and we strive to include a mix of blog posts related to our strategic goals.

Where did this plan come from?

This is where the nerdy fun comes in. I was honored to coordinate the strategic planning process with LaCora. We were both new to the board in 2017 and love how YNPN-TC empowered us to jump right in for this influential role!

Pinky & the Brain

LaCora and I worked closely with 2017 Board Chair Matt Dreier, Vice Chair Sarah Crumrine and Governance Committee volunteer Dan Frankenfeld. (As of 2018, Sarah is the Board Chair and Dan has joined the board.) We worked with facilitator Melinda Czaia, who customized the Theory of Participation (ToP) process for our group and timeline.

Here’s how our year looked:

Spring: Assemble team, create project plan and conduct exploratory interviews with past board members and community advisors; hire a facilitator for the strategic planning session

Summer: Create pre-work packets for board members, hold the strategic planning session during our board retreat, synthesize the notes from the session and create the first draft of the plan

Fall: Carry out a few rounds of reviews, including feedback from our three volunteer committees; and lead the board to vote on the final plan

Winter: Create materials to aid in using the plan for goal development and decision-making

We're grateful to Melinda and co-facilitator Barb Gunther for their investment in YNPN-TC through providing services at a deep discount. To learn more about the Technology of Participation, visit MNToP.

What’s next?

Sarah Crumrine, 2018 chair of our board of directors, says:

We are so excited to begin implementing this plan into the work we do at YNPN-TC. Our goal is to elevate the organization to a new level, not only providing development opportunities for young people in the sector, but by working and advocating on behalf of our members. It was important for our new strategic plan to provide a framework for achieve both.


We look forward to conversations about how to live out these strategic priorities through the voice and actions and YNPN-TC. The plan is only as strong as its implementation, so please join us -- members, partners and Twin Cities community -- in moving toward a future where young nonprofit professionals connect through purpose, challenge to change and lead together.

Text version

YNPN-TC Strategic Plan (2018-2020)

YNPN-TC will become a sector-shaping organization through:

Member experience

  • Provide and communicate substantial value to members at all levels of engagement
  • Develop, test, and implement new categories of member benefits
  • Empower members to fully engage with benefits throughout YNPN-TC participation

EDI (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion)

  • Hold EDI at the center of decision-making procedures
  • Identify and meet benchmarks for EDI improvement across committees & programs
  • Prioritize the recruitment and retention of diverse membership and leadership

Organizational leadership

  • Clarify and strengthen volunteer positions, relationships, and processes
  • Advocate and educate on issues relevant to the nonprofit sector
  • Elevate board members through specific professional development opportunities

Resource & infrastructure development

  • Develop structural frameworks & processes to help YNPN-TC continue to grow
  • Build a financial model that reflects the values of YNPN-TC
  • Develop collaborative partnerships to support programmatic & financial priorities

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