Guest Blog: Unethical Culture is Endemic in Business

Editor's Note: this post has been re-blogged. It originally appeared on The Conversation, and it references the Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2015. 

How could VW be so dumb? Blame the unethical culture endemic in business

Edward L Queen, Emory University

That far too much of the world’s corporate leadership is driven by moral midgets who have been educated far beyond their capacities for good judgment should be obvious after observing the events of the past week.

The financial industry-led economic collapse of 2008 should have taught us this lesson, but the specificity and clarity of it was brought home by news of price-gouging in the pharmaceutical industry and, even more blatantly, by the announcement that Volkswagen intentionally programmed thousands of its diesel automobiles to cheat emissions testing.

We should be outraged by such behavior and demand appropriate punishments and sanctions as well as restitution and correction. But we should not be shocked. As an ethicist who has looked at the behavior of individuals in business and corporations, I can point to a number of troubling trends that help explain these transgressions.

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Guest Blog: How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Nonprofit

Editor's Note: this guest blog was written exclusively for YNPN Atlanta.
By Sherman Standberry, Atlanta-based social media expert and cofounder of LYFE Marketing. Find out more about Sherman.

SocialMediaGrowth.pngDo you know how to use social media to grow your nonprofit?

According to nonprofits social media marketing data, 98% of all nonprofits are on Facebook, but only 48% of them view the results of social media as valuable. This hints that many nonprofits are unfamiliar with how to use social media marketing to grow their organizations. It also represents an opportunity for those nonprofits who do utilize social media effectively to rise above their competition.

After working with numerous nonprofits and churches at LYFE Marketing, we have developed a definitive strategy that have worked for many nonprofits over the past few years. Here is an exclusive strategy for YNPN nonprofits to implement today:
Develop a concrete plan: Why is your nonprofit on social media? Answer this question before doing anything. Define your main objectives for using for social media and make sure that every post, engagement, follower, etc. is relevant to your main objective. Analyze your audience and understand which social media platforms your target demographic is spending the most time (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). Once you have pinpointed your target audience on social media, the next step is to grow a strong presence that attracts them to your nonprofit.

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News Blog: We fancy with Podio!

podio_logo.jpgOne of the best things about being part of a national network like YNPN is the opportunity to share resources and learn from our fellow chapters in other cities. This past summer at the YNPN National Leaders Conference in Minneapolis-St. Paul, our board members Molly, Ashley, and Renee learned about Podio, an awesome new project management tool that other YNPN chapters have used to streamline their operations.

Citrix Podio is the new way for teams to communicate, organize, track, and get work done in one place, and we are thrilled to announce that Podio has become an official sponsor of YNPN Atlanta! With Podio, project management will be easier than ever for the YNPN Atlanta Board of Directors and committee volunteers, with increased collaboration on projects and integration with tools like Google Calendar, Dropbox, Facebook, LinkedIn, and much more!

Podio is a great tool for volunteer driven organizations who need a way to organize communications in the cloud.  Interested in having Podio sponsor your organization?  Visit their sponsorship application online!

Excited to hear how YNPN Atlanta leaders are working to make our chapter better every day?  Consider joining our team with one of our current volunteer opportunities!

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Guest Blog: 52-17, a New Way to Be Productive

Editor's Note: this post has been re-blogged with the author's permission. It was originally posted on the author's blog September 18, 2014.
By Sonya Collins, Atlanta-based independent journalist covering health care, medicine, & biomedical research. Find out more about Sonya.

Yesterday, I read an article that said the most productive workers take breaks often. To be precise, they take a 17-minute break for every 52 minutes worked. I’m a work-from-home freelancer, and I always have at least a half-a-dozen assignments on my plate, and a list of at least that many tasks I must complete for each of them. Without the rhythms of an office, co-workers, and meetings to structure my days, I’m always on the lookout for the latest evidence on how to be more productive.

For health purposes, not so much for productivity, I had tried to adopt the habit of standing up for five minutes every 60-90 minutes. I used StandApp on my iPhone, which sounds an alarm every 60 minutes (or 90 if you choose), then shows you a five-minute exercise video to do during your break. It’s pretty funny because the man and woman who do the exercises are standing in a poorly lit, cramped cubicle in business clothes, and they use their desk or shelf for support during certain exercises. But I got pretty bored, pretty quickly with this routine. I think it was because the breaks were so short that they seemed almost pointless. They didn’t give me time to do anything useful, like cook lunch or clean my bathroom. And at the same time, they seemed to come around too often. I felt like I couldn’t get anything done before the alarm went off. Eventually, I found myself going through one set of the exercises and then leaning over my desk working for the rest of the break till the phone told me I could sit back down again. If the stand-up alarm went off when I was in the middle of something, I wouldn’t press play on the exercise video, and the app would stop running and that would be the end of my healthy desk habits for the day. Finally I quit using the app.

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NextGen Breakfast 2014: Notes from the Event Chair

By Renee Dubois YNPN Atlanta Chair-Elect & Chair of 2014 NextGen Breakfast Committee

Next_Gen_2014_Logo.pngYou may be asking yourself, why should I buy a ticket to the YNPN Atlanta’s NextGen Breakfast?  Maybe it’s for a $50 ticket, you get to enjoy the fabulous skyline views of the downtown Atlanta, at the prestigious Commerce Club.  Or is it having breakfast and an intimate conversation with a dynamic Atlanta Rockstar Leader?  Perhaps it’s helping fund YNPN Atlanta’s programs for members: even supporting members and providing them with a free mentorship program, very affordable professional development, and continuous encouragement as they work toward actionable, local change in the Metro Atlanta community.

Lisa_Borders_headshot.jpgThis year’s keynote speaker is Lisa Borders, Chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation. She will lead the charge of this year’s theme, “Diversity in Leadership.”  The NextGen Committee has worked extremely hard to bring a diverse group of leaders, from both the Nonprofit and Corporate Relations world.  These amazing leaders will serve as your table hosts.  These individuals are heavily involved with community leadership, nonprofit service, and with bringing change to Metro Atlanta.

So join us, listen, and learn from the best in Atlanta and become the leader and change that you want to see in the community!
Silent Auction Item Teaser: Some of our silent auction items at this year’s breakfast are movie passes, breakfasts with leaders, electronics, AFP membership and much more.
Auction Item Descriptions:

  • C-Suite Breakfast: Have an early morning breakfast with a top Atlanta Nonprofit Executive: Doug Shipman, Executive Director, National Civil and Human Rights Museum. The Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta is an engaging cultural attraction that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements.
  • Movies With Taste:  Enjoy a movie with a pair of movie passes to Cinébistro Brookhaven.  You will enjoy in-seat service, high back leather rocking chairs, digital cinema with 3D capabilities, chef created full menu, bar and Lounge, premium cocktails and signature drinks.  Plus there is complimentary valet service on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • C-Suite Breakfast: Have an early morning meal with one of Atlanta’s top Nonprofit CEOS.  Bill Bolling, Executive Director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank. ACFB procures more than 50 million pounds of food and groceries each year and distributes it to more than 600 nonprofit partner agencies serving families and individuals in 29 metro Atlanta and north Georgia counties.
  • AFP Membership: Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Atlanta Chapter: Promote professional development, networking and volunteer opportunities for those working in the fundraising arena. With over 400 members, the Greater Atlanta Chapter reflects a cross-section of Atlanta's  nonprofit community, as well as the consultants and resource partners who serve our industry. We welcome professionals at all career levels from organizations of all sizes.
  • Hands-free: LG Tone + HBS-730 Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headset Black. a great Idea for an active enjoyment life. It delivers powerful bass and high quality audio experience of stereo sound with Bluetooth technology and take call during workout - very easy to do both eliminates tangle wires that drive you crazy. And simply stream music and calls via Bluetooth. Easy to operate buttons. You can play, skip and pause music, control volume and pick up call calls. Waiting for a call, no need to disconnect.
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Blog: What I Learned from Ann Cramer at “Coffee with an Expert”

Published September 10, 2014

By Tavia Holloway, YNPN Atlanta Member

Coffee_With_an_Expert_8_15_14_Ann_Cramer.jpgYNPN Atlanta hosted its first “Coffee with an Expert” series on August 15, 2014, and I was one of five fortunate people to be chosen to attend. “Coffee with an Expert” gives YNPN members the rare opportunity to engage with community leaders in a small group setting. The always-amazing and ever-energetic Ann Cramer graciously gave of her time and discussed how passion, professional expertise, personal preferences, pride, and fit are critical in understanding yourself and knowing where you work best. Here are some of my take-aways from what she shared that day:

  1. Passion – Doing your job isn’t enough. It’s important to actually care about what you do.
  2. Professional expertise
    1. What skills and expertise do you bring?
    2. What skills do you want to grow?
    3. How and where will you grow those skills?
    4. What is your growth plan?
  3. Personal preferences – Personal preferences matter, so don’t overlook them.
  4. Pride – It’s one thing to have passion for an organization, but you should also be proud of what you do because you sell the brand and wear the brand every day.
  5. Fit – If the culture isn’t right or you don’t fit, it won’t work for you.

The opportunity to participate in “Coffee with an Expert” is one of the many benefits you receive as a member of YNPN Atlanta. For more information on other benefits and how to join, go here. YNPN Atlanta’s next event is the NextGen Breakfast on October 23rd at the Commerce Club. The breakfast is like “Coffee with an Expert”, but on a larger scale. It includes a seated breakfast and keynote address. This year’s address will be given by Lisa Borders of The Coca-Cola Company. The best part of the breakfast is you get to choose your own table – hosted by a member of the nonprofit community - ou can even choose to sit with Ann Cramer! While you don’t have to be a member to attend, members do get early access to choose their table and purchase a ticket. Hope to see you there!

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Guest Blog: Getting Your 501(c)3 Status Just Got Way Easier – But is it Good Policy?

Editor's Note: this post has been re-blogged with the author's permission. Originally created for YNPN Grand Rapids. See the original post here.YNPN Atlanta also recently went through a 22-month process to receive our official nonprofit status, and we are interested in this conversation and believe it is an important one.

By Kevin Lignell, YNPN GR Just as the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids completed an arduous, multi-year process to register for 501(c)3 status, the IRS made a decision that should solicit a collective eye-roll from our local board members: it will now be easier - and much less time consuming - to apply for the coveted 501(c)3 status.
Well thanks for nothing, IRS.
According to Time Magazine, 501(c)(3) nonprofits with less than $50,000 annual income need only complete a three-page form online and pay a $400 fee to receive automatic approval from the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division. Additionally, it will replace 26-page form and non-profit narrative that was reviewed by the division, a process which had created a 66,000 application backlog. The IRS was overwhelmed with applications, and obviously something had to be done.
 The process is being stressed as a modernization of current practices, but the reasons for this decision are probably more about relieving some of a the pressure and criticism that stemmed from the Tea-party debacle in 2013. Last year, the IRS was accused of being biased against Tea-party nonprofit organizations that were applying for 501(c)4 status. There was a huge lawsuit and a media backlash, leading to the resignation of ex-IRS commissioner Lois Lerner. The IRS now will put less focus on new nonprofits, and more scrutiny on larger ones with the bigger bankrolls.
Call me a skeptic, but I still see many issues with this proposal. The decision will make it easier for new nonprofits to form, but also all the more easier for corruption and incompetency. Less time and energy will be put into vetting the legitimacy of small nonprofits. Additionally, it could lead to a huge expanse of new nonprofit organizations, many who will not be subjected to much government oversight.
The decision also seems to avoid a crucial question: What organizations truly deserve tax exemptions? Moreover, does this decision make it easier for nonprofit organizations to solve problems more effectively, or just create more nonprofits?
I am certainly an advocate for nonprofit organizations and their potential to solve problems, but far too often I see an overabundance of organizations fighting for a voice on one issue, while community resources get stretched thin. More isn't always better.
Nonprofits have always been touted for their creativity, flexibility and responsiveness. So does this mean nonprofits should be viewed the same way as small-business innovation, where the mass proliferation of new entities is welcomed? Or should they be more scrutinized, stressing their increased responsibility of having the public's trust?
These questions are not so easily answered. Too often, professionalism in the nonprofit world is missing. Few people know how to run a nonprofit organization effectively, yet many aspire to found them. They add their organizations to crowded field of others searching for recognition and funding. That is not to say that anyone with an advanced degree, training or experience shouldn't found a non-profit. Institutions like GVSU's very own Johnson Center were created to bridge this gap and bring more professionalism to the nonprofit sector. There are certainly ample opportunities for passionate people to learn the ins-and-outs of the nonprofit world. Despite this, simply having more nonprofits doesn't make outcomes better. It can decrease the power of collective good rather than promote it.
So back to the key question: What organizations truly deserve to be tax exempt? It appears the IRS doesn't feel the need to assess that question with more scrutiny. As a consequence, many questions arise about how this policy change could negatively affect the nonprofit sector.
On the other hand, social innovators should be thrilled: It just got a whole lot easier to form a nonprofit organization.
Kevin Lignell is a non-profit communication consultant and long-timeYNPN.Grad Rapids member. You can follow him on Twitter at @kev_lig, or contact him to respond at
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2013 Year in Review

Published January 20, 2014

In 2013, YNPN Atlanta saw some TREMENDOUS growth!  It was a packed year that led to meaningful connections, increased professional development, and some great new partnerships for our chapter.  Here are a few highlights:

  • YNPN Atlanta 2013 Board of DirectorsEntering January, 2013, the YNPN Atlanta Board of Directors more than doubled in size, creating a strong leadership body ready to take on new challenges. The 2013 Board of Directors accomplished an immense amount of work, including a strategic planning session mid-year and engagement in the new Chapter Congress process implemented by YNPN National.  The YNPN Atlanta committees also grew to accommodate the increased programming in 2013, allowing more members to have an in-depth, career-building, volunteer experience.
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Presentations: Do Yours Fall Flat?

I’ve often attended presentations of experts in my field. They have a wealth of information – typically information that many people are clamoring to hear; however, their knowledge and message get lost in a dull PowerPoint presentation. 

It makes me think of this amazing skit, Every Presentation Ever:

Experts can rely on their, well, expertise and reputation to keep people listening; unfortunately, most of us at the beginning of our careers don’t have that luxury. I frequently present to or train people who may not know my organization, let alone me. So what steps do I take to keep people engaged? Below are some tips I try to follow:

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What Good is a Mistake if You Don’t Learn From It?

mistakes - oops!As young professionals, we’re often thrown into things at work and expected to run with them. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – having to figure things out on our own and implement them without previous experience represents an incredible growth opportunity. With that growth, though, will also come mistakes.
The other day, I made a mistake at work. The details aren’t really important – it wasn’t the end of the world, but it was definitely something that I was completely responsible for. The ensuing phone call with my supervisor was more than awkward, and I had to act immediately to handle the situation. I think the four steps I went through may well serve as a framework for the future – and though I’d like to think I’ll never make a mistake at work again, that would be completely unrealistic.
Step One – Investigate:
Before rushing to any conclusions, you should look back at what happened. Learn where the error was made and why, and see if there is something you may have overlooked. Perhaps the mistake wasn’t yours – maybe a name was listed wrong in a document, or your instructions were wrong. Either way, you need to know what happened.
Step Two – Take Responsibility:
In my case, there was no question that the mistake was my own. I probably could have dug around and found some sort of lame excuse that took part of the blame off of me, but what’s the point of doing that? I messed up, and I fully admitted it. I know that my supervisor appreciated me taking ownership of the issue and apologizing for what happened.
Step Three – Look Ahead:
Sometimes, the mistake that was made can be undone; this was not the case in my situation. However, that’s not always true. In my circumstances, what was done was done. I knew, though, that I needed to figure out a way to ensure that this didn’t happen again in the future. As soon as I got off the phone with my boss, I came up with a system to put in place to ensure everything that we do has two sets of eyes on it without becoming a burden on other staff members. I immediately communicated this new plan with my manager, who seemed to appreciate it and agreed that it would work much better.
Step Four – Move On:
Being called out by your supervisor is difficult, especially for those of us who are perfectionists. It happens to everyone, though, and it’s an important part of learning and professional growth. After I talked to my boss, all I wanted to do was go home and binge on ice cream and Cheetos. I didn’t, though – instead, I went to dinner with a friend and went about my life. I had done all I could, and it would have been completely unhealthy to let something like that bother me when there was nothing more that could be done.
In essence, mistakes are part of life. And typically, they can even be good – they remind us that we are all humans, and they represent a chance to adjust the ways in which we do things to ensure that such mistakes happen again. After all, what good is a mistake if you don’t learn from it?
-Alex McNair, YNPN Atlanta Marketing Committee Member
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