by Emily Reed and Carrie Sauer
We’ve got BIG news! Times two! But to put it in context, first a little history...
By being a member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Oklahoma City, you’re actually a part of a much larger organization: the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network nationwide. YNPN as an idea came about in 1997 in San Francisco, and the national YNPN officially incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 2004. There are now over 50 chapters and start-up-level affiliates across the nation, Oklahoma City being one of the newer ones. We held our first event in March 2013 and were recognized as an official chapter just six months later in September.
Big News Part 1
On July 1 of last year, the IRS rolled out a new, simplified form for small non-profits like us to apply for 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, the Form 1023-EZ. Establishing a paid membership program allowed us to save for the user fee and submit this new Form, which was approved less than a week after submission!
We are thrilled to be awarded this designation but are taking our responsibilities as board members seriously. (If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to our organization, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
YNPN National was crucial in helping our original start up committee get the OKC chapter off the ground from the very beginning. As our OKC chapter has grown into the mighty tax-exempt fledgling that it is, National has continued their support by providing our website hosting, forums for chapter leaders to connect, including the National YNPN Conference each year, and other helpful tools.
To continue the building of strength and sustainability across the Network, YNPN National initiated a program in the fall of 2014 called the “Chapter Operating System” or “Chapter OS.” The idea was to begin taking steps toward providing infrastructure for chapters as well as defining the Chapter/National relationship a bit more clearly.
The YNPN National board has done a great job of soliciting chapter feedback and your YNPN of OKC board members were highly involved in the original discussions of this process. From input on the pros and cons of the Chapter/National relationship to what we need for data management, our Board has spent hours on conference calls and on emails working with the YNPN National staff and board as a part of this process.
In late 2014, YNPN National put out a request for applications from Chapters to be a part of the “Chapter OS Pilot Chapter” group. They would select eight chapters out of the applicants to beta test all of the new bells and whistles – new database for member and donor info, new web hosting platform, new leadership tools, everything. After much discussion, the YNPN of OKC board decided to throw our hat in the ring to be a part of this prestigious and admittedly courageous group.
Big News Part 2
And guess what? We were selected – alongside some of the Nation’s premier YNPN chapters, we might add!
So what does this mean for you, our YNPN of OKC members? Right now, not much, other than the fact that you should be really proud of what you have helped this group accomplish. Because of your help at events, because you believed in this group of young professionals so much you gave part of your hard-earned money to be a member, because you have helped share our events and content online, and for everything else you’ve done for this group, our quickly-growing chapter is officially considered one of the best in the nation.
So what does this mean for the future?
With a new database, we can serve YNPN of OKC members even better by tracking what you are passionate about learning and providing events for those purposes, as well as keep the data that you’ve entrusted with us more secure than ever.
With a new website, we will be able to better market ourselves to continue growing membership and building relationships with community stakeholders.
With new leadership tools, we will be able to provide you with more opportunities to get involved, learn, and add skills to your resume than ever before.
Things might occasionally look funky on our website, we may need our members to create new online accounts and complete some registration forms again (sorry!), and you might see a YNPN of OKC board member pulling their hair out in the corner at the next event as we work out all of the challenges there are sure to be with new systems over the next 6 months or so.
As a Chapter OS Pilot Chapter, we have also promised to roll up to the 2015 YNPN National Conference in Little Rock in August 2015 with an excited, motivated, and large group of OKC YNPNers, so if you’re interested in coming along and/or helping us fundraise for our epic journey, email our National Liasion, Emily Reed.
To summarize: be proud, thanks for helping us be awesome, let us know if you think we forgot to connect a couple of dots over the next few months, and get stoked for Little Rock.