YNPN 2009 National Conference Day 1 Wrap-Up

I attended the YNPN National Leaders Conference in D.C. and if I was wearing a suit on Friday, it better be a damn good conference.  After today, it was a damn good conference.  I have to say, over 200 showed up for this conference and it was a very diverse crowd.  I do think the topics play a big role for the huge turnout since it is a unique time for nonprofits.  Here is the Day 1 summary:

Panel: State of the DC Nonprofit Sector

Panelists:  Chuck Bean, Executive Director, Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington; Tamara Copeland, President, Washington Grantmakers; Glen O’Glivie, CEO, Center for Nonprofit Advancement


·         The fate of nonprofits depends on what type of nonprofit you are in. If you’re in a foundation or a non-revenue diversified organization, the outlook looks bleak.  If you’re a nonprofit that has fee-based services, individual giving, and skills-based volunteering, then you’re stable, but with the economy, it could turn anytime.

·         While organizations are cost containing from cutting benefits, no reimbursement on professional development, layoffs, and others;  the big picture for nonprofits is to not eliminate their services.

·         Only 1/3 of the organizations have reserved funds this year.  Ouch.

·         Approximately 100,000 nonprofits will be closing down within a year.  Another could be that organizations don’t know if they’re a program or an actual nonprofit.  If they are a program, they should mitigate to a nonprofit to cover administrative costs.

·          Glen made a big point that you should work smarter, not harder and volunteer is a dress rehearsal to your next job.

·         The stimulus and the Serve America Act that was signed last Tuesday has helped nonprofits.

·         The ABCDs of Nonprofits:

o    Advocate

o    Be the conscience

o    Collaborate

o    Dare to innovate


Breakout Session – Supervisory Skills

Presenter:  Caroline Bolas, Senior Consultant, Organizational Management, LEVELHeaded


Since I was the only blogger/tweeter in this session (also my potential clients), I have to give a full summary. If you want to read about Managing Up or Fundraising, I will provide the links below.


Role of Supervisor:

·         A conduit between the organization and team

·         Must be a role model

·         Provide leadership

·         Develop talent and programs


Setting Goals (SMART):

·         Do not generalize or be very detailed on setting goals.  (i.e. “I hope to improve the team this year”; a list of things that YOU want to do within a year that is two pages long)

·         Be Specific

·         Measurable

·         Achievable

·         Realistic or Relevant

·         Time-Bound


Barriers of Delegating:

·         Letting go of the work

·         Communicating with other employees that you have a distrust

·         Feedback/Monitoring

·         Confidence in your employees

·         “Grunt” work – administrative and clerical work

·         Rules & Responsibilities


A Checklist of Effective Delegating:

·         Identify the delegate

·         Select a delegate

·         Brief the selected delegate

·         Both you and the delegate agree on the SMART objectives

·         Develop a plan

·         Provide coaching on what to do

·         Brief others about the project/work

·         Hold regular review meetings

·         Evaluate the project/work/process



·         To provide effective feedback, it will depend on the employee’s motive.  If the employee wants to change, give constructive criticism and provide details on what they need to improve.  If the employee wants to ignore you, that’s fine, but since you are the supervisor, the supervisor must be of service to the employee and tell what you’re doing well and what must improve.

·         Steps for effective feedback:

o    Behavior – Describe What Was Done or Not

o    Impact – Who was affected and how

o    Future – Describe the behavior you would like to see in the future


What Questioning Does:

·         Takes ownership

·         Deeper thinking

·         Get new ideas

·         Greater understanding of emotions and thoughts

·         Demonstrate values and respect

·         Break down resistance

·         Builds trust and relationships


Moral of the story is be transparent, be open, don’t be afraid to give it off to someone else.  Simply, detailed communication and trust are keys to supervisor-employee relations.


Panel: The Next Generation of Leadership

Panelists: Richard Moyers, Director of Programs, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation;  Alexis Terry, Client Manager, Business Development, BoardSource;  Yarrow Sandahi, YNPN National Board Member.


There was a bunch of statistics the panel gave out.  Here were some:

·         72% of the people surveyed want to stay in nonprofits

·         75% of people leave nonprofits within 5 years

·         Biggest cause for young nonprofit people leaving is burnout from their board

·         1/3 want to be Executive Directors


I think our generation has adapted the free agent (or sports) mentality, where they go to where there’s a job available.  Either they like their current job or job, the person will re-assess their life and career and decide if they want to stay or move on.  It’s not a 5 year or even a year-by-year case.  People will evaluate day-by-day.  It’s the nonprofits and boards to be responsible to handle top talent and collaborate with their directors.


Keynote Address: Diana Aviv, President and CEO, Independent Sector



·         Went from her home in South Africa to the United States

·         She was a Girl Scout.  She develops a sense of justice by joining the Girl Scouts.

·         Must get a stronger social ecosystem

·         Must get stronger human and financial capital

·         There’s a difference between a leader and an Executive Director.  They’re mutually exclusive.


Panel: National Voice Forum

Panelists: Rick Cohen, Director of Membership and Technology, National Council of Nonprofits;  David Thompson, Independent Sector;  Frances Kunreuther, Director, Building Movement Project.


This was the most vocal of the panelists and the most tweets from this panel than any other.  Here are the highlights:


·         What sets apart from nonprofits: fundraisers.  If you have a good fundraising team, your nonprofit will stay afloat.  If not, your nonprofit is in big trouble

·         The board focuses on alliances and think of the corporate business model than matching missions with other nonprofit.  Boards think of the bottom line than the cause.

·         Collaboration with other nonprofits now crucial than ever.

·         David Thompson made some comments that might jump

o    He says a ban on lobbyists is a disservice for nonprofits

o    Social media will destroy the infrastructure groups

·         More emphasis on multi-generational leadership not only within nonprofits, but among boards as well.  The old leaders believe they are been pushed out of their leadership role.  Dialogue is important here.  Old and young leaders must understand and relate each other to get a better feel (young leaders teach old leaders about social media. Old leaders want new leaders to relate who they work for like if people feel comfortable seeing a hand-written note).

·         Reassess you organizational structure and see what is working and what is not.

·         Creativity and Innovation.


If this conference were a puzzle, it would be that nonprofits were hit hard by the recession. There are going to be cuts people won’t like, but with technology and networking, organizations can be more creative and innovative than ever.  What we’re in now is a bad cycle and probably will be there for the next few months to a year.  However, nonprofits are not a bad place to start, where you learn your craft and understand the meaning of work ethic through long hours and volunteerism.


For people reading this for the first time let me make a disclaimer that I’m an independent recruiter for my own recruiting firm that specializes in nonprofits and associations. I have been working for nonprofits for 5 years and found it rewarding.  Money (like almost the entire thing we do) play some role but I enjoy nonprofits because of its unique qualities, quirkiness, and personalities in that sector.  There are issues people care like healthcare, education and the environment.  What I also like is some people really love their issues like no other from facial hair, candy, frozen foods, and others.  That makes it fun for me because I really want to learn about other organizations missions and structures.  That is why I love nonprofits.


I like to thank Rosetta Thurman, Ian Storrar, Elizabeth Clawson, Susannah Lane, Heather Carpenter, the various YNPN networks around the country, the participants in this conference, and YNPN for setting up and making this a wonderful conference.


Here are the other links to learn more about the YNPN Conference:

To conclude, this is how a day should end:




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