Tips for Making the Most of Attending a Conference: Part 2

Lindsey Lassiter is a YNPN Triangle NC volunteer on the Marketing & Communications Committee.

In a follow-up to our last blog on preparing for a conference like #NonprofitSTRONG, we want to offer some next-level advice. A big part of setting goals and socializing is to have a plan for meeting the people who inspire you most. A great conversation with a fellow professional or thought leader can give you energy and drive for the whole day.

Below we outline how to make sure you meet those key people, and how to turn those interactions into long-term professional contacts.

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Tips for Making the Most of Attending a Conference: Part 1

Lindsey Lassiter is a YNPN Triangle NC volunteer on the Marketing & Communications Committee.

Conference season is upon us! The YNPN Team is hard at work finalizing preparations for the #NonprofitSTRONG Summit in Raleigh on Friday, May 18. We thought it would be worthwhile to highlight some tips for making the most of attending a conference. Whether you’re flying solo, with a team, are new to the conference space, or an old pro, read on for a shortlist of things to keep in mind.

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YNPN Triangle NC announces partnership with ReCity Network

ReCity Network, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Triangle Announce Strategic Partnership

Social impact hub, industry group join forces to help nonprofit leaders thrive

September 19, 2017 (DURHAM, NC) ReCity Network and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Triangle are proud to announce a new strategic partnership to impact Triangle-area nonprofit leaders and the constituents they serve.

A social impact hub for a growing roster of nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and mission-driven businesses, ReCity is now partnering with YNPN, a nonprofit leadership organization, to help ensure the nonprofit sector will have the resources it needs to address critical, persistent social issues and build a stronger, more equitable Triangle community for all.

Moving forward, ReCity Network will begin hosting YNPN Triangle professional development events at its 12,000-square-foot coworking, meeting, and event space located near the intersection of Broadway and Mangum Streets in downtown Durham.

YNPN’s free events are designed for emerging leaders to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for their success in a nonprofit career, covering topics like impact metrics and strong governance. Additionally, these events provide networking opportunities for attendees to build relationships with other social sector leaders, as both YNPN Triangle NC and ReCity Network understand that these types of connections are vital to building a more powerful, cohesive nonprofit sector.

YNPN events at ReCity Network will also be an opportunity for the organization’s members to learn about opportunities to become a part of the ReCity and its broader set of resource offerings, including work space and professional services, including legal and marketing.

“It’s always good when you can find other organizations that are perfectly aligned to your own vision and work with them to make a greater impact, “ said Rob Shields, founding Executive Director of ReCity Network. “That’s the whole premise of ReCity Network—bringing together people of purpose to solve problems for our people more efficiently and effectively. We are proud to bring YNPN’s leadership-building resources to our network and share our space and community with them.”

“ReCity Network’s work to bring nonprofits under one roof and create an inclusive, physical space for collaboration is the type of innovation our sector needs,” said Katie Todd, chair of the YNPN Triangle NC board of directors. “Our members recognize the urgency in each of their individual organizations. To be able to come to a space like ReCity and be surrounded by thoughtful leaders to learn from and work with each day can only help all of our organizations achieve their missions sooner.”

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#ynpn17 National Conference Recap

YNPN Triangle NC Board members, having a blast at this years #ynpn17 conference!


Katie Todd is the current chair of the YNPN Triangle NC Board of Directors.

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We Bend the Arc


Lindsay Humbert is a member of YNPN Triangle NC's Marketing & Communications Committee


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So, you want to run an effective meeting?

Let’s face it: hearing the word “meeting” can be cringe-inducing. We’ve all experienced bad, pointless meetings.

Yesterday YNPN Triangle NC members met over coffee to air out our meeting grievances and talk about how we can make them better. Whether you are the facilitator or a participant, we all have a role to play to ensure these interactions foster real actions that move our organizations closer to achieving our mission and provide an inclusive space for feedback, collaboration, and evaluation. Our members generated a few tips to get us started.

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What do pirates say? AARRR

Pirate metrics for nonprofits

Content sponsored by Vokol by Pathos Ethos, the creators of our 2017 #NonprofitSTRONG Summit app.

At Vokol, we think the world would be a better place if for-profits acted a bit more like nonprofits and if nonprofits acted a bit more like for-profits. We learned so much from the YNPN Triangle NC #NonprofitSTRONG Summit that we want to share with you a practice that we use in prospecting efforts that can be applied to your fundraising + programming efforts.

What do pirates say? Exactly: AARRR. This stands for Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention and Referral. The name of the game is moving your “customers” (the people offering you funds and time - so donors, volunteers, members in nonprofit speak). effectively through these different stages.

Stage   What we call people in this stage
Acquisition An individual or organization interested in what you are providing Lead
Activation That lead commits to taking the relationship to the next level Client
Revenue The client provides some form of capital (partnership, funding, time) Paid!
Retention The client is delighted with service and is happy to provide capital again Repeat Client
Referral The client is so enamored with services they generate new leads Missionary
  1. Make your own name for each of these buckets including what you call individuals/organizations in each of these steps.
  2. Place all of your “customers” in one of these buckets. Some customers don’t fit? Then your buckets are not sufficiently defined. We do this on a big wall with painters tape and sticky notes!
  3. How long does each stage take? How many leads turn into missionaries? You can play around with quantitative data now that you have all your customers listed.
  4. Make this process YOURS! We have added buckets and various paths through our process to most accurately plot our customer journey. This also helps us identify new customer segments that may all exit the flow at a similar point but still have needs we can provide for them if we tweak our offerings slightly.


You can now track how long it takes to grow a lead into a missionary and how many people “fall-off” from one stage to the other or how many get stuck between the phases. Your “customer” insights in each stage are almost in your fingertips. You only have to sit down and organize the data you already have. You will benefit from deep diving yourself into each of these stages of the the process for your nonprofit. There are slight nuances for each organization (nonprofit and for-profit alike).

This practice will benefit your programming and development measures in two major ways. First, identifying and qualifying the boundaries of each phase will guide your storytelling and programmatic offerings. Where is the bottleneck? Spend your communications and programmatic efforts focused on moving the bottleneck to the next section. At Vokol, we are able to send relevant content to folks in a specific bucket segmenting our our various buckets. For example, a festival organizer who has never had an app and is unsure about the cost gets a different message than someone who has had a competitor’s app before and are considering switching to Vokol. Bottom line, we can provide targeted messaging that speaks to their segmented concerns because the buckets are clearly identified and defined.

Secondly, you will be able to more accurately forecast donor engagement including how much they are willing to give and what cycle the giving occurs (weekly, monthly, annually). Vokol is owned by a boutique digital and engagement strategy consultancy in Durham, Pathos Ethos. When we grew Vokol, we used this practice to forecast our customer pipeline and revenue. We love sharing these types of exercises with nonprofits and social impact organizations. As a thank you for welcoming us at the #NonprofitSTRONG Summit, we want to extend a free two hour nonprofit engagement strategy session to everyone who attended the YNPN Triangle NC conference. Contact Jacob at Vokol ([email protected]) if interested.

10 Tips for Conference Success

The #NonprofitSTRONG Summit is a jam-packed day of learning new things, expanding your professional skills, and meeting new people. It is both exhilarating and exhausting. To help you make the most of the conference, and to ensure you have an amazing time, check out these ten tips to optimize your #NonprofitSTRONG experience.

Make sure your workplace is paying for your ticket. If you haven’t already, turn in the receipt from your #NonprofitSTRONG Summit ticket to your boss as a work expense. Investing in staff development will help your organization better meet its mission. (And surely a $35 conference ticket, which includes breakfast and lunch, can squeeze into the budget.) Check out this blog post to get some tangible tips for how to ask for professional development funding.

Identify at least one concrete goal for your conference experience. Have you been struggling with a challenge at work that you’re still not sure how to solve? Write it down and bring it to the Summit. Make it your mission to find someone(s) who know the answer to your problem. Whether it’s a technical problem with your website, a question about a grant application, or a struggle to make your organization more equitable, keep it in mind when you are choosing which breakout sessions to attend. Also look for people at the conference who you think might be able to help. Ask around to find those people who have experience working on your website platform, who review grant applications, or specialize in issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. You should be able to walk away from the conference with a big check mark next to that item on your list. It will help you be productive during a day away from your desk, and, of course, help you solve your problem.

Make new friends. A big part of the Summit is the opportunity to network with your nonprofit peers. Our YNPN community is so supportive, impressive, and cool, that in my experience, our networking goes beyond a simple exchange of business cards. Know that the people at the conference are genuinely interested in who you are, what you are working on, and how they can help you. Many of my best friends here in the Triangle have come from the YNPN community. So open yourself up to meeting your new BFF!

Remember to bring your biz cards. And scribble notes to yourself on the back of the cards you collect from others. With 200 people in one room, the day can get a little hazy. If you wait until you get home to sort through the business cards you collected, you won’t remember whom you met or what you discussed. Every time you meet someone new, write a few notes on their business card to help you remember who they are and what they do. For example, if you meet me, you could write on the back of my card: “Communications, social media, YNPN, and Beyoncé.” (I really like Beyoncé.) That way, you will know what to say and which questions to ask in your follow email to them after the conference.

Dress comfortably. Dress at the Summit is business casual (with an emphasis on the casual). We want you to be comfortable in the environment and feel your best. Bring layers in case the room is chilly. And if you get nervous at events like these, and sweat a lot when you are nervous, plan for that. Wear light layers, a sleeveless shirt, or a fabric that won’t stain.

Tweet and post to Insta. And prepare the gifs. The #NonprofitSTRONG hashtag is very active during the conference on both Twitter and Instagram. (Last year we totally trended.) Engage with your peers on social media. It’s a great way to not only share your Summit experience but to learn from and connect with others.

Throw everything you know out the window and walk in with an open mind. Tear down the walls—the walls around your organization and the walls around yourself—and envision your work in a different way. It’s easy to think “I could never do that in my workplace.” While that may be ultimately true, it is worth the exercise to imagine your workplace radically different. Use your time at the Summit to reflect on your organization, on your career, and think critically about what could be different. You must push yourself to recognize your own biases and assumptions. This will help you learn new things, move outside of your box, and allow yourself to shift, think differently, and care about something new. Be curious and work hard to #StayWoke.

Immediately after the conference, write down some quick reflections. Something you learned, something you want to share with your team, and something you will do immediately when you get back to your desk.

Schedule post-conference debrief time. Mark off time on your calendar for the Monday after the conference to email those biz cards, follow up with people, and share your reflections with your team. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen.

Enjoy the awesome day. Appreciate the opportunity to learn new things. Enjoy the time away from your desk. Have fun and feel re-energized. The Summit only happens once a year!

Networking Events, Summit Tickets, And More!

Summit Tickets Going Fast!

It's not too late to get your #NonprofitSTRONG Summit ticket! Grab one today before they run out. More than 100 have already sold! You won't want to miss this full-day conference loaded with professional development and networking - all for only $35. Grab your ticket now!


Upcoming Events

Network Like a Champ

Tired of awkwardly transitioning out of conversations at networking events? Want to learn how to follow-up with the large amount of business cards you receive? This is the event for you! Kick off your Friday morning with us at Happy + Hale in Durham to learn how to network effectively.

Happy + Hale
703 9th St
Durham 27705
March 24 8-9am


Wake Up With YNPN

Start your day off right with a cup of coffee and a muffin from Cup A Joe on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh! Meet other inspiring nonprofiteers from around the Triangle and exchange ideas to get the creativity flowing before heading off to work. Rise and shine!

Cup A Joe
3100 Hillsborough St
Raleigh 27607
March 30 8-9am



Chair's Note

Hoping to get approval to attend our #NonprofitSTRONG Summit on April 28? These are a few tips that may help you get funding and support from your organization/supervisor from not only our chair but also from two other board directors: Libby Richards and Nicholas Johnson!

Read out our latest blog post!


Program Recap

Emerging Leaders: Using Social Media to Change the Narrative

We were thrilled to see such a great turnout at our February professional development program. Thanks to everyone who came out for a deep dive into using Social Media to Change the Narrative. Miss the event? Watch a recording of the panel on our Facebook page. Social media was February's focus area in our competency model, a programming strategy which will inform the types of events we offer to ensure we are giving you the tools and skills you need to succeed as a nonprofit professional. Join us for this month's professional development program for a focus on networking. As a part of our model, we'll be talking about networking all month. Follow us on social media for more!

How to ask your boss for the funding to go to the #NonprofitSTRONG Summit

According to the NC Center for Nonprofit’s 2016 “Countdown to the Inevitable” report, nearly 60% of NC nonprofit CEOs plan to leave their positions in four years and 51% don’t feel like there is at least one other person on staff or board who would be a good candidate to fill their shoes.

How can nonprofits be better prepared for the baton handoff? How can those new to the field best prepare and position themselves to step-up? Organizations and funders investing resources and time now towards staff development can provide greater opportunities for individual growth in leadership and ease transition woes in the future.

Triangle Community Foundation is a proud sponsor of YNPN Triangle NC’s #NonprofitSTRONG Summit. The Summit provides a full day of unique trainings geared towards preparing our future leaders, a need that is timely and necessary to ensure the sector’s success. For a relatively low cost of $35 per ticket, participants will be exposed to tailored programming that will build individual skills and technical competencies. We hope more organizations will consider investing in their staff development in this way.

Libby Richards
Senior Community Programs Officer
Triangle Community Foundation


Hoping to get approval to attend our #NonprofitSTRONG Summit on April 28? Here are just a few tips that may help you get funding and support from your organization/supervisor:

  • Know the culture of your office and confirm the best method to submit your request for approval. Getting the green light to attend a conference can vary across organizations. It may just be a casual conversation with the boss, or a document that has to be submitted to HR staff. Make sure you are using the appropriate channels to get a YES!
    • It also might be helpful to review the employee manual or your job description for more information about professional development - including how much is in the budget, the amount of hours you have, etc.
  • Convey the tangible benefits you hope to gain from the experience - this could include a new skill set or a meaningful connection.
  • Provide as much information about the Summit as possible, including cost, location, date and a link with more info. Like this one:
  • Identify the breakout sessions and speakers you are the most enthusiastic about and explain how they will benefit you. And in turn, positively impact your ability to contribute to the organization.
    • BONUS Points: Give your supervisor an opportunity to pick a session or two that they would like for you to go to.
  • Cover your tracks and make sure the work gets done. Having a game plan for how to complete and manage job responsibilities while you are out is beneficial to you and the organization. Some examples include making a commitment to check your email periodically while out, completing tasks beforehand, and/or delegating work to coworkers that are willing and able to help.
  • Finally, share the wealth and knowledge! Make an agreement to share your experience and the information you gain with your colleagues. This can be done by live tweeting, taking notes or talking about your time at the Summit at the next staff meeting.

Professional development is essential for you and all of us who are young leaders in the nonprofit sector. I hope these tips will help you get a “yes” to join us for the Summit, and for other opportunities that can benefit your growth as a young nonprofit professional!

Nicholas Johnson
Communication and Program Manager
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce


As a more seasoned nonprofit professional, taking time out of an already over-scheduled work day to attend a conference can feel daunting. But, it’s these very opportunities that we must take advantage of in order to grow and nurture ourselves, and in turn, our organizations.

If you are unsure how to navigate either seeking permission or giving yourself the blessing to attend YNPN Triangle NC’s #NonprofitSTRONG Summit on April 28, here are three questions I encourage you to ask yourself:

  1. How am I going to clear the next professional hurdle? Whether you are years or months into your career, the question of “what’s next?” remains constant. But, it’s difficult for us to push pause and identify what the gaps in our skills or knowledge that are preventing us from taking that next leap. A conference like #NonprofitSTRONG provides an intentional space to marinate in that question with a host of resources, thought-leaders, and relationships to provide actionable next steps. We may not know what we need yet to clear that hurdle; being surrounded by others who are following similar journeys gives us the chance to observe and ask questions, often opening up unforeseen doors that provide us the right answers.
  2. How can I enrich my organization? Our annual #NonprofitSTRONG Summit offers a host of learnings that may be outside your core day-to-day responsibilities but could take your organization’s work to a whole new level. You can take advantage of this - whether it’s on building an organizational culture, maintaining a healthy database, or taking back the narrative on your issues - you can bring a fresh perspective to your colleagues. A conference isn’t only for you - it’s for the team and leaders who you work with and for - and it’s important to be open and transparent about this responsibility when approaching your boss to ask permission to attend the Summit.
  3. Why not? Too simple of a question? I beg to differ! Yes, there are dozens of workshops, webinars, and conferences to choose from in a given calendar year. But, for a mere $35, you can access high-quality content from Triangle-based professionals who walk the walk AND talk the talk in the nonprofit sector. The #NonprofitSTRONG Summit is a low-risk, high-reward investment of your time. You can expand your network; conduct free advertising for your organization; and secure marketable skills that will not only make you an asset at your organization but in the broader sector and community.

If you’re still feeling stuck, the fantastic folks at the Nonprofit Technology Network put together a justification kit for it’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference. As we like to say: beg, borrow, and steal!

Katie Todd
Director of Digital Strategies
NC League of Conservation Voters