Have you ever had that experience where you decide to make something from a recipe you found online? You get the exact ingredients, follow the steps to the letter, and then you’re still kind of shocked when it comes out looking like it did in the photo on the food blog?
I think that’s exactly the sort of experience I found myself having a few weeks ago as I stood in the lobby of the Ford Foundation watching the 2013 YNPN National Board arrive for the first day of our board retreat.
Back in 2011, the YNPN National Board recognized that we needed a significant overhaul of our board structure in order to best support the organization that we were becoming – a staffed nonprofit overseeing an increasingly sophisticated network with growing influence in the sector. Under the ever-patient guidance of the Marla Cornelius from CompassPoint, we dove into the arduous process of really laying out what we wanted to accomplish at this exciting-but-kind-of-weird phase of our organizational growth, and what sort of governance structure we’d need to guide us into our next phase.
Pausing to take stock is hard for any organization, but especially hard for organizations like YNPN where the board essentially serves as staff. It meant that, for almost a full, uncomfortable year we had to do a lot of what felt more like talking than doing. It meant that we had to say no to opportunities that felt like they would disappear and direct support for our chapters went bare bones. It meant we didn’t recruit new board members for a full cycle and current board members carried a bigger load. It meant that some of those people left frustrated and the ones who stayed felt stretched.
But it also meant that when we’d finally agreed upon a new structure, what looked like a simple chart had a solid layer of critical conversations underneath it about the work laid out in each of those boxes and the types of people we believed should take seats within that structure. It was a little like staring at the recipe on the food blog.
And we couldn’t be more thrilled with the way the recipe turned out. The 2013 YNPN National Board members represents all the things we love about YNPN and aspire for the sector to be: They are sharp, they are passionate, they are fun, they believe in possibilities and they are grounded and skilled in the work that needs to be done.
It was with this group, that we were able to develop for the first time almost 5 years a mission and vision statement for YNPN that feels totally resonant. Make no mistake, the process for arriving at these statements was challenging and actually did reveal the true diversity in the room. But under the expert facilitation of long-time YNPN consultant, Caroline Bolas, we were able to agree upon ideas, phrases, and words that spoke for each of us. We began by looking to the statements of our chapters for inspiration, then reflected on our own hopes and dreams for the world and for the sector, then zeroed in on the unique roles and responsibilities of YNPN, the network and YNPN, the National organization.
We arrived here:
Our Vision (“what the world will look like if YNPN is successful”):
Stronger communities propelled by a network of inspired and engaged leaders.
Our Mission (YNPN’s role in making this vision a reality):
The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) is a movement. We activate emerging leaders to advance a diverse and powerful social sector.
And from here, we’re so excited to move forward with all of you.
But we’d also like to know what you think! What resonates with you or rubs you about this new mission and vision for YNPN National. (Chapter leaders, especially – we’d love to hear from you!) Leave your comments below!