Blog: What I Learned from Ann Cramer at “Coffee with an Expert”

Published September 10, 2014

By Tavia Holloway, YNPN Atlanta Member

Coffee_With_an_Expert_8_15_14_Ann_Cramer.jpgYNPN Atlanta hosted its first “Coffee with an Expert” series on August 15, 2014, and I was one of five fortunate people to be chosen to attend. “Coffee with an Expert” gives YNPN members the rare opportunity to engage with community leaders in a small group setting. The always-amazing and ever-energetic Ann Cramer graciously gave of her time and discussed how passion, professional expertise, personal preferences, pride, and fit are critical in understanding yourself and knowing where you work best. Here are some of my take-aways from what she shared that day:

  1. Passion – Doing your job isn’t enough. It’s important to actually care about what you do.
  2. Professional expertise
    1. What skills and expertise do you bring?
    2. What skills do you want to grow?
    3. How and where will you grow those skills?
    4. What is your growth plan?
  3. Personal preferences – Personal preferences matter, so don’t overlook them.
  4. Pride – It’s one thing to have passion for an organization, but you should also be proud of what you do because you sell the brand and wear the brand every day.
  5. Fit – If the culture isn’t right or you don’t fit, it won’t work for you.

The opportunity to participate in “Coffee with an Expert” is one of the many benefits you receive as a member of YNPN Atlanta. For more information on other benefits and how to join, go here. YNPN Atlanta’s next event is the NextGen Breakfast on October 23rd at the Commerce Club. The breakfast is like “Coffee with an Expert”, but on a larger scale. It includes a seated breakfast and keynote address. This year’s address will be given by Lisa Borders of The Coca-Cola Company. The best part of the breakfast is you get to choose your own table – hosted by a member of the nonprofit community - ou can even choose to sit with Ann Cramer! While you don’t have to be a member to attend, members do get early access to choose their table and purchase a ticket. Hope to see you there!

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Guest Blog: Getting Your 501(c)3 Status Just Got Way Easier – But is it Good Policy?

Editor's Note: this post has been re-blogged with the author's permission. Originally created for YNPN Grand Rapids. See the original post here.YNPN Atlanta also recently went through a 22-month process to receive our official nonprofit status, and we are interested in this conversation and believe it is an important one.

By Kevin Lignell, YNPN GR Just as the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids completed an arduous, multi-year process to register for 501(c)3 status, the IRS made a decision that should solicit a collective eye-roll from our local board members: it will now be easier - and much less time consuming - to apply for the coveted 501(c)3 status.

Well thanks for nothing, IRS.

According to Time Magazine, 501(c)(3) nonprofits with less than $50,000 annual income need only complete a three-page form online and pay a $400 fee to receive automatic approval from the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division. Additionally, it will replace 26-page form and non-profit narrative that was reviewed by the division, a process which had created a 66,000 application backlog. The IRS was overwhelmed with applications, and obviously something had to be done.


 The process is being stressed as a modernization of current practices, but the reasons for this decision are probably more about relieving some of a the pressure and criticism that stemmed from the Tea-party debacle in 2013. Last year, the IRS was accused of being biased against Tea-party nonprofit organizations that were applying for 501(c)4 status. There was a huge lawsuit and a media backlash, leading to the resignation of ex-IRS commissioner Lois Lerner. The IRS now will put less focus on new nonprofits, and more scrutiny on larger ones with the bigger bankrolls.

 

 

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2013 Year in Review

Published January 20, 2014

In 2013, YNPN Atlanta saw some TREMENDOUS growth!  It was a packed year that led to meaningful connections, increased professional development, and some great new partnerships for our chapter.  Here are a few highlights:

  • YNPN Atlanta 2013 Board of DirectorsEntering January, 2013, the YNPN Atlanta Board of Directors more than doubled in size, creating a strong leadership body ready to take on new challenges.
    The 2013 YNPN Atlanta Board of Directors (pictured here) accomplished an immense amount of work, including a strategic planning session mid-year and engagement in the new Chapter Congress process implemented by YNPN National. The YNPN Atlanta committees also grew to accommodate the increased programming in 2013, allowing more members to have an in-depth, career-building, volunteer experience.

  • 2013 was the first year YNPN Atlanta presented a full slate of programming for networking hours and professional development.  Memorable events included our State of Fundraising Roundtable which featured a panel of philanthropic experts, Perfect Your Elevator Pitch where we learned to speak with intention about ourselves and our organizations, Update Your LinkedIn Profile with social media advice and free professional headshots, Financial Planning for Nonprofit Professionals where attendees received excellent personal finance advice from authorities in the field, and fun networking opportunities like our Speed Networking, Business Card Bingo, and a fun Holiday Happy Hour at Game-X.

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Presentations: Do Yours Fall Flat?

I’ve often attended presentations of experts in my field. They have a wealth of information – typically information that many people are clamoring to hear; however, their knowledge and message get lost in a dull PowerPoint presentation. It makes me think of this amazing skit, Every Presentation Ever:

[lightbox src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIABo0d9MVE"][button] Watch the Video! [/button][/lightbox]

Experts can rely on their, well, expertise and reputation to keep people listening; unfortunately, most of us at the beginning of our careers don’t have that luxury. I frequently present to or train people who may not know my organization, let alone me. So what steps do I take to keep people engaged? Below are some tips I try to follow:

Give yourself time!

This is one of the biggest and easiest mistakes to make. My more esteemed colleague requires 8 hours of preparation for every hour of presentation. If you are speaking on a topic you haven’t presented before, you may need more time than that. When you set aside this time, it’s important to take the opportunity to:
  • Spell it out by creating an outline
  • Looks are everything - make sure your information catches the audience
  • Get the audience involved through activities or engagement
  • Test it out with a dry run beforehand

Spell it out

If you’re writing a paper, you create an outline – why not do that for a presentation as well? At our company, we define the items listed below:
  • Brief description: If this presentation is to be listed on a flyer or in a program, how would it be described?
  • Audience
  • Length
  • Learning Objectives: When the presentation is complete, what do you want them to walk out knowing?
  • Schedule

Looks are everything

You don’t need to be a graphic designer to have a slick-looking presentation. You just need to follow some simple rules. This set of slides says it all much better than I can:
[box title="Slideshare: You Suck at PowerPoint" style="soft"]

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I’ve summarized the points below:
  1. Too much info
  2. Not enough visuals
  3. Bad quality
  4. Overwhelming visuals
  5. Lack of prep (hmmm… was that mentioned previously?)
Prezi is a great too to bring movement to your presentation. Recently, they have developed some templates that you can use. In addition, the presentations are easy to share for those who want to review it later.

Get the audience involved

Do presentations you attend often have the obligatory Q&A session at the end of the session? Is this typically the only interaction the presenter has with the audience? If you’re nodding yes, then more audience involvement is key!
The question is how? There’s many ways of creating engagement. The simplest form of engagement is to poll the audience on a topic or a point you make in the presentation. It’s also a great way for you to get feedback instantly! You may also want to incorporate an opening activity, sometimes called an ice breaker, and a closing activity.

Test it out

Dry runs help work the kinks out of presentations. If the presentation is for a group outside of your office, invite your coworkers to a brown bag lunch and ask them for pointers (cookies or other forms of dessert can be a great bribe). You can also use someone who’s completely unfamiliar with the topic, such as a friend, roommate or significant other. If you can’t get your point across to them, there’s a distinct possibility that the presentation is not effective.

Lastly…

Don’t beat yourself up! Whether it’s before, during or after the presentation, be confident. It’s okay to say you don’t know something, but don’t apologize for it.
~Lauren Westmoreland, YNPN Atlanta Marketing Committee Member
 
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What Good is a Mistake if You Don’t Learn From It?

mistakes - oops!As young professionals, we’re often thrown into things at work and expected to run with them. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – having to figure things out on our own and implement them without previous experience represents an incredible growth opportunity. With that growth, though, will also come mistakes.


The other day, I made a mistake at work. The details aren’t really important – it wasn’t the end of the world, but it was definitely something that I was completely responsible for. The ensuing phone call with my supervisor was more than awkward, and I had to act immediately to handle the situation. I think the four steps I went through may well serve as a framework for the future – and though I’d like to think I’ll never make a mistake at work again, that would be completely unrealistic.


Step One – Investigate:
Before rushing to any conclusions, you should look back at what happened. Learn where the error was made and why, and see if there is something you may have overlooked. Perhaps the mistake wasn’t yours – maybe a name was listed wrong in a document, or your instructions were wrong. Either way, you need to know what happened.

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The First NextGen Breakfast: Phenomenal

Next Gen Final LogoWhat does it take to be a nonprofit leader in the 21st century? How can we connect the young leaders of Atlanta with seasoned professionals in the field in a meaningful way?

 

These are some of the questions we asked ourselves when we beFreddie_OGgan planning YNPN Atlanta’s signature annual event many months ago. The event took shape through exploration of these questions and on Tuesday, October 8th, the YNPN Atlanta First Annual NextGen Breakfast took place at The Commerce Club in downtown Atlanta, with the incredible support of presenting sponsor, MailChimp.

 

First, we needed a fascinating keynote speaker that would draw our members to the event and be sure to deliver a motivating address about how to be an   effective nonprofit leader. Alicia Philipp, President of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, did not disappoint. More on that in a moment!

 

Second, we hoped to find 10 additional local nonprofit ‘celebrities’ that would each have a table at the event. Attendees would then be able to choose the table at which they wanted to be seated, depending on their professional interests or desire to meet a particular nonprofit rockstar. YNPN Atlanta was overjoyed and humbled that everyone we reached out to was excited to participate! Here’s the rundown of our incredible nonprofit celebrity guest list:

Speakers with MailChimp sponsor _GregMooney

AliciaPhilipp speaks1_GregMooney
After welcoming remarks from YNPN Atlanta Chair Lindsey Hardegree, Alicia Philipp told us about her strategies for successful leadership, especially for those of us at a young age (see image on right). She spoke at length about the need embrace diversity, to get out of your comfort zone, and to continue to grow and learn, at one point going so far as to say: "Once a quarter, do something that makes you want to throw up." She also talked about the shifting dynamics between nonprofits, government, and individuals, and about the “meanness of spirit” that exists today, challenging nonprofit professionals to do something about it.

 

A few of the local nonprofit rockstars who were unable to attend to due to scheduling conflicts generously donated their time for our Silent Auction, and attendees got to bid on one-on-one lunches with them! We were able to get other fantastic items such as classes at the Foundation Center and at the Georgia Center for Nonprofit’s Nonprofit University.
Personally, I sat at a table with Valarie Wilson of the Atlanta Beltline Partnership. We learned about Valarie’s path to success and she questioned us on whether we were preparing to take the next step in our own careers.
Attendees Talking at Table _GregMooney 

Even though I was often busy with preparations and the running of the event, I still managed to meet new people, network with some of our ‘celebrity’ guests, re-connect with folks I had met at previous YNPN Atlanta events, enjoy a great breakfast, and come away with ideas on how to better organize my career goals.

While planning the NextGen Breakfast, we hoped it was something we could replicate for years to come. With such a resounding success in its first year, you can expect that it will happen again in 2014. Personally, I can’t wait!

 

Please leave your thoughts on the event, suggestions for the future, or other comments below!
 

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Nonprofit Tools & Technology - July

This month we’re featuring tools for group-fundraising and link tracking.

As always, our featured tools will cover a broad range of uses - from managing social media campaigns to collecting online donations.  Many were not developed exclusively for nonprofits, but all will be selected based on their usefulness, ease of use, and cost (most, if not all will have a free version...).  


Crowdtilt – Fundraise with group-funding campaigns

crowdtilt logoOverview: Crowdtilt is a group-funding tool that can be used to raise money for a specific objective.  Crowdtilt’s platform lets supporters contribute money, however, the funds are only released if the campaign reaches its fundraising goal.  This model particularly useful for nonprofits because it reduces the risk for fundraisers AND potential funders.  The platform also streamlines the process of organizing/promoting fundraising campaigns as well as the donation processing.

Cost: Crowdtilt receives a 2.5% processing fee for successful nonprofit campaigns

Potential Uses: One-time fundraisers (e.g., an emergency relief fund, scholarship), small capital projects, investments in new equipment, events/ticket-sales

bitly – Easily save, share, and TRACK links

bitly logoOverview: bitly is a web-tool used for shortening, sharing, and best of all - tracking links.  Users can save links (“bitmarks”) through a variety of ways including the bit.ly website, mobile devices, and browser bookmarklets/extensions (ex. Chrome extension).  While there are many saving/shortening tools available (e.g., Delicious, Tinyurl), bitly has additional link tracking features.  Once a bitmark is created, users can easily view real-time analytics (example), regardless of whose content it is or where the content is shared (e.g., email, social media, website). Whether it’s your organization’s annual report or a YouTube video that a supporter created, you can promote and track your content without digging through analytics reports from multiple sources.

Cost: bitly is free
Potential Uses: Links used in social media marketing, email campaigns, and even on your organization’s website
Jeffrey Ader, YNPN Atlanta Marketing Committee Member
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GCN's 2013 Nonprofit Summit

The Georgia Center for Nonprofit’s (GCN) 2013 Nonprofit Summit took place May 20-21. The Summit included more workshops, lectures, and other events than could be attended by one or two people. I have tried to summarize a few take-away points from some of my favorite sessions. Check out some of our photos on Facebook from the event.
With so many amazing speakers and topics, I recommend that all nonprofits send more than one representative to this event every year, in order to take advantage of the opportunities for learning and growth.
I walked around the Exhibit Hall, visiting with the many exhibitors who were there, and several of them commented to me on how many YNPN members they had met. This was due in no small part to YNPN Atlanta’s collaboration with GCN on the 30 Under 30 Awards, and in the creation of the ’30 Under 30’ track at the conference, including bringing Trish Tchume, YNPN National’s Executive Director, to present at the Summit.
AwardWinners_panorama All 30 award winners at the Summit!
There was also fun to be had at the conference, especially at the Opportunity Knocks photobooth, run by wowphotobooth.com! Here's a collage of some YNPN'ers hamming it up:

photobooth_collage

A phenomenal session on Social Media Strategy with Alyssa Esker of Edelman included the tidbit that Facebook posts create engagement for 2 to 3 hours only (on Twitter, it’s an hour or less), and 70% of post engagement happens in someone’s News Feed, not on your organization’s Page. Ms. Esker also wisely told the audience to get on Google+, but to use it as an amplifier, not a community builder. Google+ helps with search results, which is critical. (FYI, YNPN Atlanta is on Google+!)
Slide_StateOfNonprofits_DracosLemmingAnother wonderful presentation I saw was from Ellen Dracos Lemming and it was about the Donor Landscape of 2050. Check out this slide about the growth of the sector in the past 25 years:
She also spoke about the five Tectonic Shifts in donors that will be occurring:
  1. Demographics: especially age, but also ethnicity
  2. Technology: note that older Americans are already increasingly going mobile
  3. Globalization: “geography is irrelevant”
  4. Saturation: more like over-saturation of stimuli and information
  5. Brand: creation of a feeling, a personality, around your organization
Ms. Lemming emphasized that there are only two of these shifts that organizations have any control over: Technology and Brand. She encouraged us to think about ways to use these to our advantage.
Last, but in no way least, was the 30 Under 30 Session headed up by Trish Tchume and our own YNPN Atlanta President, Lindsey Hardegree on ‘Your Role in Cultivating Next Generation Leadership.’ We’ve got their presentation slides posted on slideshare and embedded below.

There was a breakout discussion during the session on what kinds of professional development we each are getting, and what improvements could be made. One fabulous piece of advice that I took to heart: in addition to your annual review, request a Professional Development Plan (PDP)  that includes the skills you need/want to work on throughout the upcoming year.
The group also discussed leveraging the benefits to the organization when asking for funding for professional development opportunities (ex: “if I take this training class in InDesign, we will save money on hiring outside consultants to tweak our graphics”).
Overall, I met so many amazing people at the Summit, and sat in on more than a dozen workshops, presentations, and discussion groups. YNPN Atlanta will keep you informed when next year's Summit comes around, and we will hopefully have discounts and volunteer opportunities for our members once again!
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Summer Reading List - May

As summer approaches and vacation time is on the horizon, I typically start a list of books I’d like to tackle before the busy fall season. I certainly include my share of lighter fare, but I usually try to throw in a few reads that will exercise my mind, and, as an added bonus, help me grow in my career.
If like me you’re looking for some picks for this summer, here are a few I’d suggest checking out. And stay tuned for more recommendations from YNPNers in June and July!

For Business:

Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
You’ll want to buy this book brand new, as it comes with a unique log-in for an online assessment questionnaire designed to help you determine your strengths, as well as action steps for how to make the most of them. After you take the online questionnaire, you’ll receive a personalized Strengths Insights Report and Action-Planning Guide. A #1 Wall Street Journal and Businessweek bestseller, the book offers additional insights into your strengths, information about working with others with your strengths, and also ideas for action. Rather than focusing on fixing your shortcomings, this book emphasizes developing your strengths as a way to find fulfillment in your career. It’s an eye-opening exercise and a rewarding read.
How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar by Trista Harris and Rosetta Thurman
This do-it-yourself map helps you navigate the nonprofit sector and offers tools that you need to move from entry level to leadership. The book is based on the authors' experiences as well as interviews with “nonprofit rockstars” who have quickly accelerated their careers. Topics covered in the book are how to develop meaningful nonprofit experience, build a strong network, establish a strong personal brand, achieve work/life balance, and move up in your career. Author Rosetta Thurman actually visited Atlanta back in November for a free nonprofit career workshop at the Foundation Center.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
As the subtitle suggests, this book is about “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.” A nonfiction book that reads like a page-turner, this one is a recent favorite. Gladwell focuses on how a seemingly small or insignificant idea, trend or behavior can trigger a social epidemic, worldwide fashion trend, or drop in crime rate. As I read this book, I often got inspiration for new ways to approach my own professional development as well as nonprofit marketing and fundraising.

For Pleasure:

The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs
This memoir by NPR contributor and magazine editor A.J. Jacobs tells the somewhat ridiculous and often hilarious story of the author’s quest to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. With chapters titled A to Z, the book is full of interesting facts and truly amusing tales of Jacobs’ determination to finish all 33,000 pages. I had a blast reading this book and even more fun impressing (or annoying) my friends with quirky bits of info I may never have known if I hadn’t picked it up.
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Nonprofit Tools & Technology - May

This month we’re featuring tools for creating online wish lists and interactive data visualizations.

As always, our featured tools will cover a broad range of uses - from managing social media campaigns to collecting online donations.  Many were not developed exclusively for nonprofits, but all will be selected based on their usefulness, ease of use, and cost (most, if not all will have a free version).  

GiFTgive – FUNDRAISE WITH ONLINE WISH LISTS

Overview: GiFTgive lets organizations make custom online wish lists (through Amazon.com) which can then be shared with donors. Unlike a traditional gift registry, the feature-rich platform allows organizations to customize the look and feel of the wish list page as well as the donor thank you message. The platform also lets donors make partial donations towards more expensive items.  The obvious benefits for donors are the opportunities to make non-cash contributions and to see the direct impact of contributions. For nonprofits, using GiFTgive can be an easy way to solicit contributions for goods/equipment that may not be a budget priority or that are not costly enough to require a dedicated fundraising campaign.

Cost:  Pricing plans range from a 4.9% transaction fee to a fixed $49 monthly or $495 annual fee
Potential Uses: Holiday season wish lists, office relocation/renovation wish lists, program equipment wish lists


TABLEAU PUBLIC – EASILY CREATE DATA VISUALIZATIONS

Overview: Tableau Public is a free application for creating interactive data visualizations that can be shared and embedded online.  Unlike many data visualization tools, it requires no programming or graphic design skills.  Users can import data from Excel/Access and then use a simple drag and drop process to create and customize interactive charts.  Charts (or groups of charts in a dashboard format) can be shared online and embedded in webpages.  Tableau Public is a particularly powerful tool for nonprofits given its ease of use and ability to visually communicate complex data sets.  Not only can a nonprofits leverage data collected from its services/programs, but it can also take advantage of publicly available data sets (examples using government/public data).

Cost: Pricing plans include a free application as well as personal and professional versions that range up to $1,999

Potential Uses:  Issue advocacy/education, program metrics/evaluation, financial transparency
- Jeffrey Ader, YNPN Atlanta Marketing Committee Member
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