Staying “In the Know:” Getting Relevant and Essential Nonprofit News

As ambitious, emerging nonprofit professionals, many of us hold down multiple jobs, go to school part-time, work long hours, and/or volunteer regularly with several organizations. Add to this the desire to have some kind of life outside of work, perhaps even a budding family, and it is difficult to find the time to read all the latest news about our sector and the nonprofit industry in general.
It’s easy to focus solely on one’s own organization and local issues, but we need to recognize that it’s critically important not to lose sight of the larger sector in which you work (health, arts, education, homelessness prevention, etc), in addition to the nonprofit sector as a whole. This is particularly true for YNPN members, since we are at a relatively early state in our careers – it’s very possible we may move to a new area of the country, or find a job opportunity in an unexpected new field. Keeping up with the latest research, thought leaders, conferences, political and policy issues, and the general state of our sector will best prepare you for whatever may come.
The question then becomes: how does one do this without spending hours upon hours reading every day? That is time we don’t have!
Overall, it’s about discovering the right curators. You can’t read everything, so you have to seek out organizations/people/automated systems that sort through the sea of content available and deliver only the best and most useful items to you. I have a few tips, and I would love to hear your own ideas in the comments.
1. Twitter (especially lists)
Twitter has become my favorite and most reliable place to discover new and interesting tidbits that I find relevant to my life and career. Personally, I choose who I follow very carefully and judiciously, but not everyone shares that habit! Regardless of whether you follow 200 or 2000 people, I recommend creating a Twitter List that includes only those accounts you find interesting professionally. Every couple of days, scroll through that list and see what they have to say. These accounts can include bloggers, professionals, other nonprofits in your field, national nonprofit news sources…but only include those who regularly tweet interesting, relevant content. Check out this info, from Twitter, on how to use their lists feature, and you can find one person’s take on how best to create and manage lists right here.
2.     Advocacy Groups
Full disclosure: I have worked and volunteered for advocacy groups for the past 5 years. But they keep their ears to the ground for policy issues and political changes that will potentially affect your organizations, both positively and negatively. Be on their email list and follow them on social media – they will keep you abreast of what you need to know in the political realm. Seek out national organizations as well as state and regional ones.
3.     Associations & Other Newsletters
A person can only belong to so many professional associations, and one must choose carefully…but that is a subject for another blog post! You can often get news from professional associations whether you are a paid member or not. Their newsletters will include news articles, opportunities, and developments in the field. Here in Georgia, if you are not signed up for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits email list, get on it today! I also recommend Coxe Curry’s weekly email with news relevant to all nonprofits in the Atlanta area. You can subscribe here.
4.     RSS – Searches
RSS Searches: Keeping tabs on specific organizations (especially the one you work for) or keyword searches can be done using RSS feeds from specific sources (such as The New York Times or The Chronicle of Philanthropy) or Google News alerts tailored to your interests.
5.     Online bookmarking systems
Finding a system that will allow you to easily bookmark articles/blogs/websites to read or skim later on is key. When you run into things via emails or social media or whatnot, you need a way of saving the good ones for later. PC World just posted a great article on the pros and cons of three systems: OneNote, Evernote, and Google Keep.
In all of these categories, think a little outside the box when searching for sources and curators. Although I have never worked for a museum, I find the American Alliance of Museum’s (AAM) advocacy email list to be invaluable as a source of clear, reliable information on arts policy and news.
Please share your own tips, tricks, and recommended curators in the comments! This is an issue we’ll all face throughout our careers. Coming up right now with a system that works for you will help you for many years to come!
~Rachel Ciprotti
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