Monday, April 27, 2009

The Value of a Nonpofit Focused Graduate Degree

Recently, I got an e-mail from a student asking how much equity a nonprofit focused graduate degree would add to his career. I am always amazed when I get these types of questions because I already feel like I'm a broken record. However, when some attendees of the YNPN Leaders Conference wanted to know the benefits of pursing a nonprofit focused graduate degree, I decided to write this post.

Here are three ways a nonprofit graduate degree will ADD VALUE to your career.

1. A nonprofit focused graduate degree will help you get promoted and increase your income.

USD's nonprofit management and leadership degree program has a 95% satisfaction rate and 89.1% of the alumni experienced some type of career change since attending the program, with 58.7% receiving an increase in income since graduation.

2. A nonprofit focused graduate degree will give you well rounded nonprofit management expertise that will help you succeed in ANY type nonprofit job.

Whether you want to pursue a development, program, or advocacy job at some point you will need to be able to create and manage a budget, raise funds for a program and have strong connections within the community. A nonprofit focused degree will give you those skills!

The most common courses offered in nonprofit graduate degree programs are:
  • Nonprofit Management Fundamentals
  • Research Methods
  • Ethics
  • Financial Management in Nonprofit Organizations
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Fundraising for Nonprofits
  • Nonprofit Governance
  • Strategic Planning
  • Nonprofit Law
  • Marketing for Nonprofits
  • Advocacy and Public Policy
Here is a spreadsheet I created comparing courses in 11 different nonprofit management graduate degree programs. For a list of all nonprofit focused graduate programs check out Roseanne Mirabella's Web site.

In addition, the majority of programs are for FULL-TIME working professionals and offer an applied project or capstone component so you'll get hands on practical experience too. For example, for my nonprofit masters degree I created a marketing and volunteer recruitment plan for the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society at Great Lakes, Illinois which they could use and put into motion right away.

3. A nonprofit focused graduate degree will help increase your network and sphere of influence within the nonprofit community.

The connections I made during my nonprofit masters programs were invaluable to me. While I was in my program, I met senior leaders in hospitals, the Girl Scouts, local foundations, and development offices within Universities. I not only learned a lot from my fellow classmates but they also helped me make new connections in the nonprofit community.

Looking for more information about Nonprofit focused degree programs? Check out my previous blog posts on this subject:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

YNPN Leaders Conference: Being Thankful

The theme of the last session of the YNPN leaders conference was inspiration and gratitude. Chapter leaders from Chicago, NY, Twin Cities, DC, Denver, San Diego, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Cleveland, Austin, San Francisco, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Louisville and Phoenix shared their favorite moments of the conference and what they planned to take back to their chapters.

Take Backs:
  • Document more
  • Implement best practices
  • Brand who they are
  • Revise Current Board Structures
  • Add Advocacy voice element
  • Share best practices and data
  • Lengthen leadership pipeline
  • Plan a purposeful path
  • Bring Next generation advocacy issues to the local level
  • Promote voice in the local media
  • Keep momentum going
  • Get Imodules (new website) up and running
  • Refine mission and vision
Also, there was general appreciation in the room for the conference allowing them to:
  • Learn from other chapters about communication and marketing
  • Reconnect with the national board
  • Participate in discussions at the national level
  • Find out what the national board is doing
  • Learn and find out new things
  • Strengthen Chapter
  • Be Inspired
  • Receive Great information
I was also inspired to be a better leader and I was thankful to be in a room with all these amazing emerging leaders.

Here are a few of my peeps who also blogged about the YNPN Leaders Conference.

Elizabeth Clawson
Emily Davis
Monisha Kapila
Rosetta Thurman (also featured guest bloggers: Khyati Desai, Meredith MacMillan, Opa Owiye and Stephanie Hood)

YNPN Leaders Conference: Best Practices Every Nonprofit Should Follow

Wow -- let me say that again -- Wow!! I just attended a session led by YNPN DC and I'm impressed. YNPN DC board members shared their best practices they use in their chapter that I think ALL Nonprofits should follow.

They have best practices for EVERYTHING, here's a taster:
  • Procedure manuals for events
  • Shared internal docs
  • Integrated google e-mails
  • An Email schedule (e.g. the 15th of the month they send out the newsletter)
  • Tracking of Email click rates & open rates
  • Program calendar (they set program dates months in advance).
  • Consistent messaging
  • Volunteer contributors to the newsletter that provide enriching stories.
Since I have an operations background I was eating this up, because these best practices make YNPN DC more efficent and effective!!

My all time favorite best practice was they have TALKING POINTS for everything. Since YNPN is a volunteer run organization, this is especially important and helps strengthen YNPN's message in the community.

The board also shared their planning for the future and exploration of a certification in nonprofit management for their members.

YNPN San Diego will definately use some of DC's best practices in the future!! I hope other nonprofits will too.

YNPN Leaders Conference: Would you ask Bill Gates to serve on your nonprofit’s Board of Directors when he was 25 years old?

Most nonprofits would say no. Yet many emerging leaders are well on their way to becoming future “Bill Gates” types in the nonprofit sector and eager to participate on a nonprofit Board of Directors.

Yesterday, Alexis Terry from BoardSource discussed common barriers emerging leaders face when trying to serve on nonprofit boards.

She said, many boards are looking for the C-suite types and do not see the benefit of adding young nonprofit professionals to the Board of Directors.

In order to change this, she encouraged emerging leaders to be proactive, influence, and pursue organizations.

Alexis also provided suggestions for successful board service. She said, once emerging leaders connect with organizations, we need to stick around (2-3 years) to show we are committed to the organization and make the personal touch (beyond the use of technology), like send a hand written letter to a donor.

For more information read BoardSource's Next Gen Governance Report.

YNPN Leaders Conference: Our Greatest Strength is our Knowledge Network

YNPN has over 15,000 members in almost 20 chapters across the nation. Because of this, YNPN members work in practically every sub-sector and region in the nation as well as are employed in every type of nonprofit job (e.g. development, programs, operations).

It is amazing and exciting to think about the collective knowledge and expertise of the YNPN network. We should share this knowledge and learn from one another!!

For example, at YNPN San Diego we recently created our annual strategic plan and fundraising plan and will be posting these items on our website shortly. We are also documenting best practices on our blog (e.g. creating the board of directors, using social media for fundraising and much more). However, it would be really helpful to learn what other chapters are doing to.

YNPN also has members with amazing individual knowledge and expertise. For example, I've already a learned a lot from talking to/and or reading blog posts from these individual attendees at the YNPN Leaders Conference:
  • Barbara Camacho, Program Associate, Member Services Northern California Grantmakers
  • Jessamine Chin, Program Manager, Adobe Foundation
  • Naomi Leapheart, Philadelphia's Young Nonprofit Leaders
  • Michael Lartigue, Founder and President of Voices Under Forty
  • Meredith MacMillan, Senior Editorial Associate, NAEYC
  • Opa Owiye, Affilate Program Director, The Brookings Institute
YNPN national has a great opportunity to be a collector and disseminator of this individual and collective knowledge.

Update: Just learned about YNPN's new internal best practice document center and online external resource site that will be launched soon. Yah!

Friday, April 24, 2009

YNPN Leaders Conference: Revitalize your day- Listen to Diana Aviv and Francis Kunreuther

After getting one hour of sleep last night I'm about done for the day. Luckily for me, Diana Aviv President of the Independent Sector just keynoted at the YNPN Leaders Conference and Francis Kunreuther, author of Working Accross Generations was on the last panel of the day.

Here are a few highlights from their talks:

I pulled two themes of Diana's talk, strong nonprofits and leadership:

Strong Nonprofits are:
  • Working together to make major impact.
  • Working in the community and not working in isolation.
  • Using human capital and strong committed individuals.
  • Using connected people who are interested in making our society a better place.
Leadership is about:
  • Working with others to achieve what you want to do. (Not being a lone ranger)
  • Creating a clear vision for oneself and one society.
  • Formulating your vision into a reality.
  • Following your passion.
Diana's talk was a charge for emerging leaders to lead strong nonprofits in the future.

Similarly, Francis's talk focused on nonprofit structures:

She is engaging in a new initative with Idealist and to create new organizational structures in the nonprofit sector. This will involve:
  • Interviewing organizations to find out what organizational structures are working
  • Finding a way for nonprofits to replicate working organizational structures.
  • Restructuring top positions within nonprofits
  • Meeting with Civic Venture to engage in structural revolutions.
*The goal of this organization restructuring so nonprofits can operate more effectively and efficiently.*

YES --FINALLY this is similar to my argument to change the system of the nonprofit sector in my blog post My Theory of Nonprofit Leadership. However, framed in a different way. We need to change nonprofit organizational structures in order to improve the leadership in nonprofit organizations.

Live blogging from YNPN Leaders Conference: Should professional development be quantified?

I just got into DC off the red eye. I’m a little groggy but happy to be in the room with emerging leaders from across the nation. This morning’s panelists (Stacy Palmer, Chuck Bean, Glen O'Gilvie and Tamara Lucas Copeland) are discussing the state of the DC Nonprofit Sector.

The panelists discussed how the economy is affecting DC nonprofits, such as:

• Nonprofits without diverse funding sources are struggling;
• 1 out of 4 nonprofits are extremely vulnerable;
• Foundations' assets are decreasing yet funders are remaining committed to the sector, and;
• Nonprofits had a drastic increase for their services yet their revenues are decreasing.

The panelists also discussed how DC Funders and nonprofits alike are addressing the challenges in this economic downturn by engaging in: collaboration, cost containment, shared services, volunteer utilization, mergers, restructuring, shared back office.

While these things are important, I want to focus on the issue of professional development and specifically quantifying the value of professional development.

Chuck Bean from the Nonprofit Roundtable said “professional development [for emerging leaders] now is more important than ever”! He also encouraged emerging leaders to show Return on Investment (ROI) of their professional development experiences.

This is good in theory, however I and other emerging leaders struggle with this. Many younger leaders see the value of professional development but don't know how to show its value or quantify its value in a way "our" bosses will understand. I would have liked Chuck to say here are a few examples of how you can quantify your professional development experiences.

Even so, I'm not sure I'm sold on creating an ROI for my professional development experiences, so I'm asking you: Should professional development be quantified? If so, how would you show the ROI on your own professional development experiences?

Would it look something like this: "the technology professional development I received in my last organization helped me improve my organization’s technology infrastructure and saved the organization thousands of dollars." Or would it look like something different?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I can't let go -- YNPN San Diego Rocks!

A couple of months ago I stepped down from the YNPN San Diego board because of my class load. At the time I was relieved to have one less thing on my plate. However recently Emily Davis, YNPN SD's, founder asked me to attend the board retreat since I've been with the organization since its inception.

The retreat was an amazing experience. I enjoyed being in a room full of 18 excited and passionate emerging leaders. I thought to myself during the retreat and I think I even said it out loud--I love this organization!! The retreat was so invigorating. Also, our retreat facilitator said we were really good at communicating with one another and we were good listeners!!

We created our strategy for the year, talked through some tough issues, and tried to be the board we have always wanted to be.

Looking for a nonprofit job? Common questions answered

In this post I will answer three common questions about getting a job in the nonprofit sector.

Do I need a graduate degree to move up the ranks in a nonprofit?

I believe an advanced degree in nonprofit management will provide you with the well-rounded preparation and training that you need to manage a nonprofit organization. The majority of nonprofit management graduate degree programs offers courses in Financial Management, Fundraising, Board Management, Advocacy, and Organizational Development as well as requires hands on projects within local nonprofit organizations.

In my post, “Don’t listen to them, you should go to grad school” I explain the importance of pursuing a graduate degree and provide specific examples about how earning a graduate degree accelerates ones career. For example, I recently surveyed alumni from the Nonprofit Leadership and Management masters degree program at the University of San Diego and found that over 89.1% had a career change as a result of attending the program. So if earning a graduate degree doesn’t get you promoted, it will certainly help you find a better job in another organization.

What salary can I expect in the nonprofit sector compared to a similar job in the for-profit sector?

It depends on the industry. In the research report, Employment in Americas Charities shows that in the hospital, educational services, nursing and residential care, museums, historical sites and social assistance industries that nonprofit workers made more than their for-profit counterparts. For example, hospital workers in nonprofits made on average $752 per week, while for profit hospital workers made on average $706 per week.

What are the best resources for finding a job in the nonprofit sector?

I recently stumbled across a blog post that attempted to list all the nonprofit job sites on the web. That list is exciting but also overwhelming so I’ll tell you my favorite nonprofit job sites.

Check out the national nonprofit job sites, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and Local nonprofit jobs may available that are not posted on these national sites so check out your local nonprofit state association, they should know where to find the local nonprofit job postings. The National Council on Nonprofits website lists all the nonprofit state associations.

Looking for a nonprofit job? Use social media

Social media is all the rage right now; I love using LinkedIn to connect with my professional colleagues, Facebook to connect with my friends, and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest nonprofit news. But did you know you could use these sites to land your next job? I recently conducted a webinar through Opportunity Knocks about this topic and I'll be presenting on this subject at their upcoming conference.

Here are a few tips for using social media to get your next job:
  • Using LinkedIn: There are many ways to use LinkedIn network to get a job. I’m a member of many nonprofit groups through LinkedIn that e-mail me job postings and other related topics about nonprofit careers. I’ve asked people in my LinkedIn network to introduce me to people in their LinkedIn network like an Executive Director at an organization I want to work for. Check out Guy Kawasaki’s post Ten ways to use LinkedIn to get a job where he shares other great tips for using LinkedIn to get a job.

  • Using Facebook: I love using facebook and posting status updates about what I’m doing or about a new nonprofit career resource I found. Kathy Dodd used facebook to tell her network when she lost her job. In her post Using Social Media to Launch a Job Search Kathy created a facebook ad to get a new job.

  • Using Twitter: You can use twitter as another way to build up your network and find a job. My two favorite resources on Twitter are Twollo and Twitter Packs. Twollo allows me to type in keywords (like nonprofit careers) and automatically connect with people on Twitter who “tweet” about that topic. Additionally, Twitter Packs allow me to follow a whole bunch of people that are Twittering about a certain topic I’m interested in. My favorite Twitter Packs are Nonprofit, Human Resources and Careers. Britt Bravo’s post 6 ways to Use the Web to Find a Job provides more tips about how to use Twitter to get a job. Here are a few nonprofit job sites on twitter: @idealist @cgcareers @execsearches @brazencareerist @jobsearching @dotorgjobs
Don’t have time to use all these social media sites? Then try using the Firefox web browser that provides free Add-ons for LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter so you can manage your social network all from the convenience of your browser.

So I didn't get the job -- what I'd do differently next time is launching a new initiative on its site to provide information about jobs for change. I met the founder when I was working for Aspiration. As part of the jobs for change initiative the team was looking to hire a group of career guide bloggers (part-time). I decided to apply for a career guide blogger position since it fit well with my nonprofit workforce and nonprofit career interests.

The application and interview process were right in the middle of my mid-terms. I also have to admit I didn't take the time to prepare for this interview or make myself a standout candidate like I usually do. I really think that had an impact on not getting the job. I'm a little disappointed, but I'm always looking for ways to improve so I thought to myself what could I have done differently?

Here's what I would have done differently next time.

1) I would have sent them a handwritten thank you note after the interview. (I've done this in the past and it really ads a personal touch)

2) I would have launched this blog series: Looking for a nonprofit job and my first post would have been:

Looking for a Nonprofit Job? How I learned to market my skills in the nonprofit sector.

"During my career I’ve had the opportunity to work in the career services department at my undergraduate institution and work with a nonprofit recruiter. These experiences taught me how to improve my resume, and market myself better during the interview process as a result get the jobs I want—like this one.

If you are trying to change jobs or just getting into the nonprofit sector, here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Resumes are more effective when they show specific examples of completed tasks AND organizational improvement results based on the completed tasks, for example:

  • TASK: Engaged in strategic technology planning and budget process, overhauling website for RESULT: improved donor cultivation.
  • TASK: Coordinated annual direct mail appeal and quarterly mailings, employing bulk mail process for RESULT: cost savings.

2. Organizations that you interview with like to hear specific examples of HOW you are good at what you do!

I’ve been on both sides of the interview process, but as an HR person I’m always looking for the candidate to give specific examples about how they improved their organizations. Also, I want those examples to relate back to the position I am trying to fill.

Many times there is an interview question like "What are your strengths?" Don’t just answer, "I am very organized." The candidate should say why they are organized and how they improved the organization, like this:

  • One of my strengths is that I am organized, I recently completed a project where I improved the organization’s media tracking and posting system, which resulted in revitalizing our communications efforts.
For more tips like these, check this enewsletter: Making Changes written by Laura Gassner Otting of the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group. She’s also the nonprofit recruiter I used to work with."

This was originally posted on my nonprofit operations blog while I was working at Aspiration

3) I would have asked my readers, if you like this post please e-mail .... at change dot org and tell them you think I should be a career guide blogger.

The important thing is when you're applying for a job you must standout and do things above and beyond the other applicants. This time I did not.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rebranding Myself

It is interesting how "branding yourself" is quite a hot topic right now across the blogosphere. Trista Harris has a entire Do Gooder Guide dedicated to branding oneself for personal and professional success. Then there is the new book Me 2.0, which is all about "building a better brand to achieve career success." Also, Rosetta Thurman helps emerging leaders brand themselves in her series From Entry Level to Leadership.

I like reading these resources because I am going through a rebranding process myself. I believe in order to brand or rebrand oneself you must know two things:

1) What your career goals are
2) What you are good at

I recently came across Idealist's Guide to Nonprofit Careers, Chapter 3 which is dedicated to helping one do a career and self assessment. For example, one of the career assessment exercises is titled "Career Tracks." In this exercise you look at nonprofit job postings and print out or save postings that are appealing to you. Then after you collect at least 50 postings, you analyze the similarities in the postings and identify most appealing jobs and organizations.

I wish I had known about this exercise when I was starting out my career!! It has taken me quite a few years to figure out my career goals. I'm still deciding between a career as a professor in a nonprofit focused degree program, as a researcher in nonprofit focused research center (like the Urban Institute), or as a Director in a nonprofit infrastructure organization (like the Independent Sector or Idealist). While I was trying to figure out my career goals, I attended a lot of nonprofit conferences to learn about what types of organizations exist in the nonprofit sector.

Now that I know what I want to do (sort of), I am trying to rebrand myself and show what I'm good at. I no longer what to be known as an Nonprofit Operations expert, I want to be known for my expertise and knowledge of the nonprofit sector as a whole. More specifically, my knowledge of nonprofit leadership and education programs and my knowledge of the nonprofit workforce and careers within in the nonprofit sector. That is why I continue to post my doctoral papers, presentations, and research on my website.

I recently posted my Spring 2009 work which includes my research studies through the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research and my class papers about various nonprofit sector topics. These papers include The Nonprofit Congress as a New Social Movement and more.

I'm working on becoming an established and reputable nonprofit researcher in these areas. Its tough, because in a way I am starting over. Before my brand as a Nonprofit Manager allowed me to contribute in certain arenas, but now that I am a doctoral student and I'm rebranding myself, I want to contribute in other arenas.

Where are you in the branding process? Are you just starting out, or like me rebranding yourself? Or maybe if you already have an established brand, what are your tips for career success?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Reflections on the Nonprofit West Coast Data Conference

I just got back from attending the Nonprofit West Coast Data conference, (hosted by UCLA's Center for Civil Society) a small gathering of nonprofit academics, researchers, and students.

I liked the collegial atmosphere and presentation format of research ideas, methodology and/or findings. I also enjoyed meeting fellow doctoral students and professors that deeply care about nonprofit research.

Because of the small setting, presenters received feedback from senior faculty members including but not limited to: Mark Hager, Robert Ashcraft, Steven R. Smith, Joe Galaskiewicz, Robert Donmoyer, Brint Milward, Carlton Yashioka, Mary McDonald, Erna Gelles, Helmut Anheier and Zeke Hansenfeld--all VERY well known professiors in the nonprofit academic/research field.

I know I can speak on behalf of the doctoral students and other presenters when I say, we really appreciated how these senior faculty members took time out of their busy schedules to attend the conference and provide us feedback on our presentations and research ideas.

In fact, I was so impressed by the presentations and research ideas at this conference, I decided to do a follow up to my Top 50 nonprofit academics post. Here is a list of the doctoral students and junior faculty that presented at the conference. They are the *next generation of nonprofit academics*:
& amazing undergraduates Joe Pettinato and Samuel Richard, Arizona State University who did two rockin presentations!!

(I know there are many more amazing next gen nonprofit academics out there, however these are the ones that I met at the Nonprofit West Coast Data conference).