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Pages tagged "Professional Development"


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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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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Moving On

Loading a Moving Van“HelloGoodbyeHelloGoodbye… I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.”
-The Beatles, Hello, Goodbye

These lyrics come from what feels like my theme song of late: Hello, Goodbye by The Beatles. Since graduating college in 2007, my now husband and I have moved four times, never staying anywhere longer than three years. Perhaps we’re not so different from you or many others in our generation, who chase job opportunities wherever they lead.

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Time Keepers

Pulling Back TimeIt’s crazy that the idea of “work-life balance” even needs to be discussed. In a perfect world, a beautiful equilibrium across all facets of our lives would be so implicit that a phrase to describe it wouldn’t even exist. But we live in an imperfect world, and working in the nonprofit or philanthropic sectors means spending a great deal of time trying to keep bigger parts of the world in balance, often foregoing relative harmony in one’s own life.

In the past, I have struggled with a pendulum of all work or all play, a slightly destructive cycle that switches directions in full force whenever I’m overcome with exhaustion—a rhythm only recently broken by the birth of my son, and now all time outside of regular work hours are devoted to him. However, knowing my own penchant for the imbalance of work/life I was thrilled to learn that the first peer-led YNPN-EPIP Leadership Institute session would be about balance. Not only would I walk away with a toolkit for working toward balance, but I would also learn that I am not alone in my struggle to keep all parts of my life aloft.

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Communication Gaps: Road-Tripping Without a Map

Have you ever been ¾ of the way into a project, only for it to unexpectedly halt because others have different ideas or are not on the same page? We have all been there, and while this scenario can be very frustrating, must times, it simply suggests a one-time misunderstanding.

But what if this happens regularly? Then that one-time misunderstanding turns into a communication gap, and that gap requires more than just a simple “do better next time” approach. Instead, it requires everyone involved to assess the problem, identify solutions, and take deliberate efforts to change the way you communicate.

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10 Life Lessons From Web Design Trends

Growing up, I was a science and math kid. I liked the facts, the memorization, even the tests. I liked the clear cut, yes or no, A + B = C answers. This seemed to bring me two things: decent grades, and the ability to check out of any creative thinking.  In college, a slow shift started without me knowing. My favorite class was my anatomy class, where one thing connects to another thing. Sounds cut and dry (no pun intended… maybe), but all of a sudden I found myself looking at the big picture of how and why the pieces fit together. I was thinking about connectivity, relationships, pathways, and purpose. I was design thinking. Fast forward a few years, and to my surprise I’m spending time outside of my day job designing websites for bloggers, churches, small business, and nonprofits.

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Pictures, infographics, social media: Nonprofit Technology and Communications Conference recap

main.jpgIt’s only been a few short weeks after the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ 2014 Nonprofit Technology and Communications Conference, and I have already begun to put some ideas into action.

I’m the Volunteer Center Program Manager for Community Thread, a small nonprofit located in Stillwater. With a staff of 11, we do not have one person that is solely in charge of communications or technology. Rather, it is up to many staff, including myself.  I was thrilled to attend this conference, as I wanted to learn more about engaging the public through technology and communications. A few takeaways remain in my mind:

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Jump into work head first

Not that long ago I came across the poem “To be of use” by Marge Piercy. I barely got through the first stanza and thought she could be writing about YNPN Twin Cities. The entire history of our organization is filled with people who “jump into work head first/without dallying in the shallows”. It’s in our DNA. It’s what inspires me at every event and with every interaction. I read the poem as a reflection of pieces of YNPN-TC’s vision to connect through purpose and lead together.

When members saw a gap in the leadership development opportunities of young nonprofit professionals, YNPNers came together with a clear purpose and created a Leadership Institute that has just launched. 

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