While I’ve been serving on the YNPN Triangle NC Board of Directors for nearly four years now, I cannot comprehend how much more I learn and grow thanks to the people I serve with and the opportunity to attend the national YNPN conference.
As the current board chair, I try to stay focused on what we’re working towards, as a chapter, and as a sector. Sometimes, I lose track of the vision due to day-to-day operations, putting out fires, seizing new opportunities, and more. I was so grateful for the opportunity to once again root myself in what this whole “Young Nonprofit Professionals Network” is during the 2016 Activate Leadership! Summit. Because, that’s the crux of it: we are a networking of more than 50,000 nonprofit professionals! That’s unbelievable. We have so much power to make change on how our nonprofit sector operates internally and how it is viewed externally.
As we move our chapter forward in affiliating with our national network, these are the questions I’m carrying around in my head, heart, and hands for the remainder of 2016 and beyond:
How do we tweak and root our Triangle chapter members in what we’re attempting to do as a network? Our priority remains cultivating and supporting emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector. But, we also must seek out opportunities to overhaul our sector from the inside. How do we do this? We do this by equipping ourselves and our members with the relationships, skills, and knowledge we need to make real change in the nonprofit space.
It can’t only be internal change. We have to rebrand the nonprofit sector externally – shining a light on young nonprofit leaders and demonstrating to our colleagues in the for-profit and public sector the importance of the nonprofit sector.
How does our chapter do this successfully? We start by examining all of the opportunities we offer our members through a focused lens: will this opportunity help move the needle for our sector to be more inclusive, for our communities to be healthier and stronger, or for our members to feel empowered and engaged?
We want to be seen as the thought-leader for young nonprofit professionals in the Triangle. How do we do that?
- We hold a conference that keeps its registration fees accessible and that offers a variety of educational opportunities around core values and areas needed to strengthen our sector leaders.
- We host opportunities for members to connect with each other and with prominent leaders in our communities.
- We create spaces for shared learning, such as small group discussions on pressing nonprofit sector issues.
- We showcase the skills of other young professionals who can pass their knowledge and experience to other members. We must identify first what skills and values our members should have in order to be change agents for our sector, both internally and externally.
If we want our members to be able to operate fiscally-sound organizations, then we need to ensure they have space to learn about nonprofit budgeting, financial management best practices, and how to read accounting statements. And we need to explain to them why we’re offering this opportunity.
If we want our members to be able to dismantle the oppressive policies and systems our nonprofits participate in and help to perpetuate, then we need to equip our members with shared language around equity, diversity, and inclusivity. We need to expose them to the topics of white privilege, power dynamics, various identities that comprise our communities.
If we want our members to be sector leaders, then we need to make sure we’re providing them information about our sector. What does it mean to work at a nonprofit? What does that mean for the federal government? The state of North Carolina? How are nonprofits funded? What are these Boards of Directors and why are they so important?
If we want our sector to become more diverse, inclusive, and equitable, then we need to talk about the policies of our sector and the impacts they are having on us achieving that goal. We need to allow our members the space to practice interviewing; to review resumes; to talk about salary negotiation; to address workplace harassment. We also need be talking directly to executive leaders in our sector and outside of it about why many of our hiring practices hinder our sector’s ability to attract diverse talent: we are underpaid. We far too-often rely on “personal networks” for recruiting new candidates. We place unneeded value on educational achievements.
As you can see, we’ve got some major work to do. I cannot wait to tackle it with each of you as we continue to grow and nurture our blossoming chapter and expanding out to our powerful national network. We can be the change we want to see. And we are already doing it.