by Pervez Soomar
It is hard enough to pay for four years of school (probably more), but its even harder to live a financially free lifestyle while you are trying to make a huge difference by working for a nonprofit, teaching, coaching, or doing anything else that involves big sacrifices with little financial payoff. Simply put, a financial free lifestyle is being able to do the things you love without having to make major financial sacrifices. According to debt.org, the average student loan debt for a 2014 graduate was $33,000. That doesn’t sound like a lot for someone who lands an investment banking gig at Goldman Sachs right after graduating, but it is a lot for someone working at a local nonprofit for $30,000 per year. Working in the service sector has its ups and downs, but it is definitely possible to continue working and while being financially free.
Oddly enough, the most financially savvy people that I have met have been the people with the lowest salaries. These people have been able to figure out how to live without the things that cause clutter, and instead concentrate on things that bring happiness. These are also the same people that end up having much more money to spend on the things they love.
There are 3 simple strategies that you need to develop in order to make working for a cause easier on your wallet.Read more
by Marian Cooper
In the Spring of 2013, less than three months into my first paid nonprofit job, I heard about a professional organization for newbies to the nonprofit sector. I followed up and attended my first YNPN event at Sauced on Paseo on May 14, 2013. At this first networking happy hour, I met at least a dozen other contemporaries looking to connect with their peers. I learned that the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Oklahoma City (YNPN of OKC) is a locally cohort of emerging nonprofit workers or those interested in breaking into the industry.Read more
by C.J. Powers, MBA, MA Originally posted at The CJ Project
I get this question a lot when I do my professional development workshops…”Will employers consider any nonprofit work or volunteer-intern work as prior experience?” The answer is yes and no. The bottom line is you NEVER know what the employer, recruiter, or hiring manager is looking for deep down. All you can do is put your best foot forward and hope that your experience and skills measure up to what they are looking for. Not to mention that it’s good to come to them with something (even if it was unpaid voluntary experience that’s related) than nothing or unrelated experience. While giving back to the community is the main purpose, it also gives you a chance to test out career options and get other valuable resources for your professional future.Read more
by Christipher Streeter, chriskstreeter.com
If you grew up in America you are probably pretty familiar with the work of the Ad Council. By now, you know that “only you can prevent forest fires”; that “loose lips sink ships”; and that you should “take a bite out of crime.” They tackle the heavy stuff; the big issues that affect us all. These oftentimes life-and-death issues though tend to travel under the radar, requiring a well-crafted message to grab our collective attention.
Enter the work of the advertising agencies that partner with the Ad Council. Even though the agencies change, there is a consistent voice and communication style across the campaigns. Using the Ad Council as a guide, here are five tips that you can use in communicating your organization’s somber and difficult messages.
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!Read more
by Jenny Brown
In recent months there has been a lot of talk regarding Millennials and job-hopping – some suggesting that those of us born between 1980 and 2000 are a “generation of quitters” and others saying we are simply seeking personal fulfillment.
Regardless of your opinion about the matter, I think there is something to be said for seeking happiness in our daily lives through our work environment. When we consider that the average person spends more than 40 hours of their week at work, I believe it’s important that the work they do makes them happy on some level. I may be idealistic, but life is too short to not enjoy your career, or at least find it in some way fulfilling.
But I think there is a specific part of the equation that more Millennials should consider before switching jobs, and that’s the question of “What am I passionate about?”Read more
What Does the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Say About Millenials as Donors - and How Effective Is It as a Long-Term Fundraising Strategy?
by Kristin Holland
By this point, you’ve probably seen your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds full of videos of friends, family, and co-workers dumping buckets (coolers, casserole dishes, mixing bowls) of ice water on their heads.
Some of them might include the hashtags #icebucketchallenge or #strikeoutALS. This isn’t the first time nonprofits have used social media to raise dollars and awareness. In 2013, Water is Life hijacked the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems and the hugely successful social media campaign that followed brought over 1 million days’ worth of clean water to those in need.
As the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge continues to grow in popularity, and as someone who works and volunteers with the nonprofit sector day in and day out, I have to stop and wonder… is this truly the most effective way to create positive change?Read more
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” - Benjamin Franklin
When the Oklahoma City chapter of YNPN was first forming in the fall of 2012, the startup committee volunteers weren’t sure what it would eventually look like. Each chapter can make their own choices about programming, tax-exempt status, funding sources, and membership requirements. We got inspiration from other chapters, but we knew we’d need to forge our own path. (If you’d like to learn more about our relationship with YNPN National, review this slideshow.)
The startup committee decided that we wanted to start building our network as soon as possible and then let that network direct our growth. We felt that OKC was ready for this new resource and we were right. Our first social event was held just 16 months ago on March 4, 2013. Thirty-five people showed up and we knew we were on our way! That September, we were promoted from ‘startup’ to official active chapter status.Read more
by Bevan Graybill Professional Development Chair photos courtesy of YNPN National
Every year, a chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network hosts the National Conference. This summer, YNPN Twin Cities hosted the 3-day event, and I represented YNPN of OKC in Minneapolis. It was an amazing opportunity to meet other YNPN chapter leaders, learn what other chapters are doing, and explore a new city.
I also got to try my hand at teaching during the 2014 National Conference. With the encouragement and support of the other board members, I submitted a proposal to lead the workshop “To Be or Not to Be…a 501(c)(3)?” A YNPN Grand Rapids board member (and fellow attorney) and I ended up collaborating.
Kristin wrote this post initially for the national YNPN blog; it first appeared here.
I’m sitting in a breakout session on leadership at a nonprofit conference. The speaker asks, “Can someone tell me about their experience as a leader?”
Immediately, my hands get clammy, beads of sweat bubble around my hairline, and I am genuinely considering whether anyone will notice if I crawl under the table. As I glance at the raised hand of my neighbor, I am certain she is getting ready to share her experience founding a nonprofit that single-handedly raised adult literacy rates, ended childhood obesity, fed the hungry, and sheltered the homeless all at the advanced age of nine. I have only two thoughts: I am not a leader, and I hate this question.
Paul Schmitz in Oklahoma City. Photo from the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.
This describes my experience at nearly every leadership workshop until last week when the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits brought in Paul Schmitz to lead a workshop based on his book, Everyone Leads. Paul suggested a definition of leadership that I had never considered before. In fact, his definition defies the very laws of grammar. According to Paul, the word “leader” is a verb, not a noun. Leadership is an action someone takes, not a position someone holds.
When asked to consider my personal experiences as a leader in the past, my internal response has been, “I’m only 25. I’m not a CEO. I definitely don’t have a list of awards on my resume. Maybe I’ll be a leader in 15 or 20 years after I’ve accomplished more.” But if a leader is defined by his or her individual strengths, talents, and values rather than titles or lists of accomplishments, how does that change the way I view my leadership abilities?
First, Paul’s definition of leadership helped me identify the ways I have stepped up as a leader in my organization. My Director has a visionary leadership style. She is innovative and likes taking risks. I fall somewhere between the analyst and mobilizer leadership styles. I am excellent at developing program timelines, summarizing complex group discussions, communicating persuasively, and creating accountability for my department.
I may not be the Director, but I also recognize that “Director” and “Leader” are not synonyms. I may not be generating innovative program ideas, but I also recognize that visionary leadership is not the only kind. If it were, our programs would rarely develop beyond the initial spark and enthusiasm. Every action I take is an opportunity to step up as a leader, apply my unique skills and strengths, and contribute to the progress and success of my organization’s programs.
Second, if leadership is defined by individual strengths, talents, and values, then it is a fluid definition. I expect my strengths, talents, and values to grow as I do. If I have a hard time defining who I am as a leader at 25, that’s perfectly okay. I’m still developing that definition. Paul encouraged this when he discussed the leadership value of continuous learning.
During the workshop, he asked everyone to write down three things they suck at. Here are mine: being on time, taking big risks, and letting go of control. There is power in identifying our challenges, mistakes, and shortfalls; it keeps us from growing stagnant. Part of my position with the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits involves training nonprofit boards on good governance practices. The first time I trained, I was paralyzed with fear that someone would ask a question, and I wouldn’t have the answer. Everyone would realize I’m a fraud. Now, I see that the best answer is often, “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.” Every time I don’t have an answer, it forces me to grow and improve.
Finally, Paul’s definition says that leaders are defined by a certain set of values. Leaders hold themselves accountable to these values and expect others to hold them accountable as well. Paul outlines five values that his organization, Public Allies, identifies as necessary for positive and lasting community change. But at the end of his workshop, he invited us to name our own values. I thought back to a prompt Paul used at the beginning of the day: think about a time when someone believed in you, opened a door, or created opportunity for you.
This past January, I was invited to help facilitate a retreat for ten Executive Directors in a rural community in Oklahoma. A few days before the retreat, the primary facilitator asked if I would lead a thirty minute educational component on a topic of my choice. I was shocked she thought I had anything of value to share with a group of far more experience leaders and that she trusted me to develop the topic on my own. She valued my voice. She forced me outside my comfort zone. She was confident in my abilities even when I still needed some convincing. This is how I want to lead others.
What kind of leader do I want to be? A leader that understands that the most effective organizations utilize the leadership of many. A leader that seeks constant growth and improvement. And a leader that recognizes and develops leadership potential in others.