Take 5: Perspectives on Overcoming Your Hurdles

What hurdle are you facing? What's standing in the way of your goals?

Five of our members sound off on that and more in this week’s take five:

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Open Letter to YNPN Members

From Katie Todd, Chair of the YNPN Triangle NC Board of Directors

Greetings to my fellow nonprofiteers and change agents:

 You may know a lot about the organization known as the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN for short) or not a whole lot. You may have attended several of our Triangle chapter’s events or this may your first foray into what we have to offer.

I’m glad you’re here.

Whether you work in, volunteer for, or give to the nonprofit sector, you have a general understanding of why these organizations exist. These groups are providing services – from education, to healthcare, to animal welfare – that help people and our communities not only survive but thrive. That’s not an easy task. The hours can be long. The pay can be little. And the daily interaction with stories of struggle, injustice, and unfairness can be draining.

I don’t want to scare you off from being engaged with nonprofits. In fact, now, more than ever, we need thoughtful, bold emerging leaders to take the helm. Here in the Triangle, our challenges are great – unequal access to resources; reduced funding to help folks meet basic needs; and the tension between short-term payoff and long-term investment in building healthy, sustainable communities.

But, being a bold leader can feel daunting if you don’t have a support system behind you.

This is why YNPN Triangle NC exists. We want to help you create that network of people and resources that will allow you to be a change agent for good. We talk about getting #NonprofitSTRONG at our annual conference, and in order to do that, you need the right tools, knowledge, and confidence. Whether you have been in the nonprofit field for 10+ years or you are considering joining the fray, we want to equip you with what you need in order to make the Triangle a more inclusive and equitable region for everyone.

We get it – being a leader isn’t easy. And, it’s not always clear what leadership looks like. We don’t believe that leadership is defined by a position within an organization. Leadership is an action. Here in the Triangle, we need more emerging leaders to bring their creative solutions to the table. To help motivate you to take that leap of faith, we want you to feel connected to others in the sector and give you space to build relationships, glean insights, and have that moment where you say – “It’s not just me who faces this hurdle!”

Five years ago, I was new to the Triangle region and felt a tad lost as I worked in a nonprofit where I could count the number of “young” people on one hand. I no longer had those connections from school or from home to rely on for advice and friendship. Then, I stumbled upon YNPN Triangle NC and attended an evening networking social. At the now departed City Beverage in Durham, I connected with others who worked in fields vastly different from my own but felt the same call to serve and the same frustrations. Over the years, I have deepened by roots into the chapter as I continue to listen and learn from other members while also growing professionally by joining the Board of Directors.

As I begin my second year as the Chairperson, I am blown away by what this organization looks like now compared to when I first joined. With more than 1,500 members and hosting nearly three dozen events each year, the chapter only gets hungrier to do more outreach, connect more people, and support more leaders in the Triangle.

Our work is just beginning. Will you be a part of it with us this year? There’s never been a better time to be bold or to find another ally, mentor, or friend. I look forward to seeing you in 2016 and feeling the ripple effects that you and all of our sector’s emerging leaders can have on the Triange’s present and future.


Katie Todd
Chair, Board of Directors, YNPN Triangle NC

The Experience Catch-22

By Libby Richards, Senior Community Programs Officer at Triangle Community Foundation and YNPN Triangle NC Board Member


Nonprofit professionals who are new (or newer) to the field often tell me about a frustrating predicament that I remember too well: they don’t have the experience to participate in experiences that would help them become more experienced. Ugh. Often new or younger staff members aren’t given the opportunity to take the lead on projects or are passed over for opportunities like participating in an important strategic meeting or an inspirational conference, because they don’t have the years of on-the- job-training that a manager or director may have.

How can organizations and funders help young professionals escape this catch-22?  

Investing in professional development opportunities for all staff, in particular those who are new to the field or the job, is a start! A relatively small investment (with little to no risk) can have a great return. Organizations can build their leadership pipeline by providing the time and funding for staff to watch webinars, attend conferences, or participate in leadership development programs. Individuals can learn tips and best practices, build their network, feel valued, participate in brainstorming and strategy, and build their experience.

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10 Tips for Ensuring your Conference Presentation is a *mic drop*

Just about everyone who stands up in front of a room full of expectant people feels butterflies in their stomach. So what can you do to boost your confidence and give a super engaging presentation? Check out our 10 tips below from YNPN-ers on how to knock the socks off of everyone in the room.

1. Dress appropriately for the type of conference, venue, and audience. If the conference vibe is business casual, leave the three piece suit at home. Bring layers in case the room is freezing. And if you sweat a lot when you are nervous, plan for that. Wear a sleeveless business dress or a fabric that won’t stain.

2. Practice, practice, practice is so, so, so crucial. Read your presentation script aloud multiple times to build your confidence and conversational tone. Get used to hearing your voice aloud and comfortable with the content. Give your presentation to a friend or even an empty room. Great public speakers are not magic. They just practice a lot.

3. Know you are not alone. Everyone gets at least a little nervous before they present in front of a large group of people. Accept the butterflies. Lean in to the butterflies. And refer to tip #2.

4. Don't make your slides the star of the show. You are the star. No need for flashy graphics, heavy text, or a different color scheme for every slide. They should be listening to you, not trying to read the paragraph you put up on the screen.

5. Talk louder and slower than you think is natural. Remember that if you’re nervous, you may talk faster than normal. In a presentation setting, your listeners are trying to digest all of your golden nuggets of knowledge. Give them time to process by talking more slowly and taking small pauses in your presentation. This is also a good way to make sure you are breathing and allowing oxygen to continue to flow to your brain, another crucial process when standing in front of a large group of people.

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#ResolveToGrow in 2016

In true nonprofiteer fashion, we’re making our New Year’s Resolution all about someone else: you.

This year we want to help our members learn new things, meet new people, and grow stronger. We know you have big plans for 2016. We want to help you get on track, connect the dots, navigate the sector, and achieve your goal. 

That’s why we’re launching our official peer-to-peer mentoring program called #ResolveToGrow. In this program, our members will tell us their 2016 aspirations, and we’ll do everything we can to help make it happen. We will pair participants with #ResolveToGrow “buddies” (because the buddy system is real) and will keep in touch throughout the year to make sure they’re taking the right steps on their path to success.


So what do you want to do this year? Maybe you want to find the holy grail of nonprofit accounting software, ask for more responsibility at work, or learn how to balance your job with the rest of your life. Perhaps 2016 is the year to start fresh and change careers, or maybe you want to exercise more. Whatever it is, we want to make your resolution, our resolution.

Sign up to join this program and #ResolveToGrow. Share your 2016 goal with your friends on the interwebs by using #ResolveToGrow. Tag us @YNPNTriangleNC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. And if you’re really into it, download our official #ResolveToGrow Selfie Poster and share a pic of your 2016 goal.

Big goals aren’t so scary when you have your BFF at your side. Let’s make 2016 awesome together.

Reclaiming What It Means To Be a "Millennial"

By Emily Hill, Chair, Membership Relations YNPN Triangle NC

I have a confession to make. Two years ago, I found out that I was a Millennial.

I was born in 1982, so two years ago, I was over 10 years into the workforce. I was working in a job that had me on the internet a lot: reading articles about philanthropy, business, higher education, and wealth. I would read all these articles about Millennials: Millennials entering the workforce, Millennials and their staggering college debt, Millennials and their lazy work ethic, their smart phone addictions, and their social media shenanigans.

I read all these articles and I thought…HA! Those spoiled, entitled Millennials! Good thing I’m Generation Y! Under the radar! Yes!

Then I finally read an article that gave me the birth years that make up the Millennials – 1980 – 2000.

(I’ll give you a moment here in case you—like me—were skating through life blissfully unaware.)

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Reaching Out to Members After Awkward Silence

Written By Katie Todd YNPN Board Chair

“Er – hello? I mean, hello. It’s nice to see you again. Yeah, you look great. Has it really been that long? So, here’s what our organization has been up to the last six months…”

Sound familiar? Despite all of our best efforts to keep in touch with our members, we can slip in our communications from time to time. And, as we know, time keeps marching on. One month can quickly turn into six as we craft our next membership newsletter, appeal, or annual report. If we have let too much time elapse in communicating with our donors, volunteers, and general supporters, what is the best way to re-open that line without coming off as needy or disingenuous?

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How Lame are Rejection Letters?

Dear Young Nonprofit Professional,

How lame are rejection letters?

How many cordial emails have once-prospective employers sent you about your strong credentials, but an even stronger applicant pool? How many thin envelopes did colleges send you about their record numbers of applicants, assuring you that your skills would lead to a bright future—elsewhere?

This isn’t one of those letters. Congratulations! YNPN welcomes you to its extended network of members!

If you work for a nonprofit, if you want to bring your private-sector savvy to the nonprofit industry, or if you’re looking for the perfect job, then simply subscribe to our listserv or attend one of our upcoming events to get involved!

There’s no doubt that other organizations have to be choosy about their members. If your alma mater accepted everyone, you never would have gotten football tickets.* And if your nonprofit had hired everyone, your desk would be even smaller.

While your college and employer thrived on selectiveness, let your professional association thrive on collectiveness.

Know that when you come to a YNPN Triangle NC event, you’re accessing an extended network, endless resources, and professional development opportunities.

Know that you will meet colleagues from across the Triangle at events and in the Triad and beyond online.

Know that you can hear local industry leaders at brown bag lunches, share ideas at coffee talks, and swap resources on our resource page.

Know that you’re a member. We hope you’ll get in touch with us to tell us what we can do for you, or what you would like to do for us. Find us @YNPNTriangleNC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or get back to us in the comments.


YNPN Triangle NC

PS-*For y’all who went to small schools, a cappella concerts?