About Dylan Manderlink

Dylan Manderlink is a recent graduate of Emerson College in downtown Boston, MA. She studied a self-designed major that blends the disciplines of theatre, social advocacy, leadership strategies, and journalism entitled, Investigative Theatre for Social Change. Dylan is a current Teach for America corps member teaching Digital Communications at a high school in Arkansas. She is passionate about working towards social justice through nonprofit work and supporting NGOs that are committed to improving the quality of life for all people and raising awareness for community change through service, activism, and the arts. Dylan was the president of her college’s student-run social justice organization for 3 years, served on her school’s sustainability committee, and worked in her college’s Office of Service Learning and Civic Engagement. Her previous nonprofit internship experience in Boston includes working as the Marketing Intern for Year Up, the Communications Intern for Community Works, Recruitment Outreach Intern for Green Corps, and the Communications Intern at Pine Street Inn homeless shelter. Dylan has also interned at the LA-based nonprofit, : Liberty in North Korea.

How to Invest in and Foster Your Employee’s Passions in the Nonprofit Sector

How to Invest in and Foster Your Employee’s Passions in the Nonprofit SectorMy passion for working in the nonprofit sector and making a positive difference in the communities around me are my constant energizers in life. I have many professional ambitions to find community-based solutions to societal problems and am very determined to dedicate my future to doing so. I am grateful that I have found my niche within the nonprofit sector and I have a lot of nonprofit professionals to thank for me getting to the place I am today at the young age I am. Nonprofit co-workers can play an integral role in fostering and enhancing the passion that so many employees come in with. From my experience, the type of people that are drawn to the nonprofit sector are ones who are ready to jumpstart their career in bettering the lives of others and benefiting humankind as whole. It certainly takes an immense amount of passion, doggedness, and willingness to dedicate yourself to a career that is very much for the benefit of others and not just yourself. As I begin to launch my career in the nonprofit sector, I have been able to reflect on the professionals and supporters in the nonprofit world who have encouraged my uniqueness, energy, and passion within the workplace and how helpful it was that they did.

Even before I sunk my teeth into college and all of the advantageous opportunities the city of Boston had provided for me, I knew I had a strong sense of urgency to make a meaningful, positive, and personal difference in my community and society at large. Once I got to college and my passions continued to grow, I knew I needed to find a career path that enabled me to effect change. During the summer of my sophomore year in college I applied for my first internship with a nonprofit. The 3-month experience I had interning in the nonprofit sector solidified my hunch that that this was the type of work I needed to be doing. Throughout my internship, I felt constantly encouraged and motivated to contribute my skills to enhance the gifts of the organization I was working for. In the internships that followed, I noticed a similar trend of my fellow employees and employers creating an environment where my personal interests were incorporated into the work that was being done. Despite still being in college, my co-workers gave me incredible opportunities that catered to my specific passions for social justice, sustainability, and volunteerism. In doing so, they consequently provided outlets for me to further develop those passions of mine and figure out my strengths and weaknesses along the way. Without having the experience interning in a comforting and accepting work environment that vitalized my interests and career aspirations, I wouldn’t have received the support I needed to go forth in my career with confidence. Through working alongside such supportive and motivating nonprofit staffs, I feel like I understand social justice in a deeper sense and that has been personified through my relationship with my community.

Your employees’ passions and reasons for coming to the nonprofit sector are what inform their work everyday. In many cases, it is one of the reasons they are motivated to go to work in the morning and what sustains them throughout the years. Taking time to inform yourself of your employees’ passions, personal missions, and background in the issue your organization focuses on will help foster the type of environment that allows for innovation, creativity, and growth. I know from my personal experience, I felt even more valued as an employee when my employers and co-workers got to know me on a deeper level and I felt like they had a sense of investment in my success and future. With that said, my call to action for nonprofits would be to note your staff’s spark and form an environment around what makes them tick. Having a passionate staff working towards your organization’s mission is an empowering place to be in and will produce the type of success that positively impacts communities at large.

How to Broaden Your Donor Base to Young People

How to Broaden your Donor Base to Young PeopleAs the holidays are fast approaching, many nonprofits are very much in the fundraising mindset. From my experience at my previous nonprofit internships, the time from Halloween to New Years was when the biggest bulk of our donations came in. Since this time is vital for nonprofits to reach their fundraising goals in order to continue to fund their services and work for the community, it’s important for organizations to diversify their donor base. Aside from corporate, event, and private donations, the simple $10-$100 donation amount can really go a long way. As a recent post-grad my budget is very tight, but when there is a cause or organization I am inspired by or passionate about, I try to allot some money to nonprofit donations. But young people don’t tend to be the strongest or most dependable donor base because we have just graduated, are getting situated in our careers, and may not have generous salaries that allow us to make effective donations. However, I would suggest nonprofits reach out to and make relationships with a young donor base that can grow overtime.

By nonprofits establishing a donor relationship with recent post-grads (close to their graduation date or soon after), there may be a higher likelihood of donor retention for a sustainable amount of time. Many young people who are interested in nonprofit work, public service, and community change are earnestly looking for ways to contribute and make their mark. A donation can be a foot in the door for many recent graduates who are looking to get more involved in or become more supportive of the nonprofit sector. The follow up with that donation can be even more beneficial for both the young donor and your organization. I always appreciated the personal connection that was initiated by nonprofits that I donated to. I also appreciated seeing exactly where my donation was going. That transparency helped me develop trust in the nonprofit organization and motivated me to continue donating to see how else my donation efforts could make an even more significant impact.

I’d also suggest nonprofits taking a creative and non-traditional approach to their outreach efforts to potential young donors. Social media is being more and more utilized by nonprofits to amp up fundraising efforts and young people are the primary users of these outlets. Making your nonprofit’s social media presence personal and creative while fundraising is definitely an effective and unique way to broaden your donor demographic. Personalizing your social media presence and engaging young people is a way to create donor connections that could potentially last longer than 140 characters.

My charge to nonprofits during this holiday fundraising frenzy is to actively engage and make personal and sustainable connections to recent college graduates and 20-somethngs to expand and diversify your donor base. The earlier you can involve young people in your organizational efforts and services; there is a heightened possibility of them maintaining their involvement and interest in the organization. Attracting young donors and volunteers is important for nonprofits to expand their audience, make their mission more relevant, and foster longevity among their supporters. Even if it’s just a $25 donation this holiday season from a recent graduate, that contribution has the potential to grow and become effectively sustainable. Inspire your community and engage its youth, their impact can be meaningful and has the potential to make ripples.


How Nonprofits Can Best Reach Out & Engage Potential Post-Grad Employees

	How Nonprofits Can Best Reach Out & Engage Potential Post-Grad EmployeesAs someone who is a recent post-grad and interested in entering a career in the nonprofit sector, I’ve been paying close attention to the relationships I have built over the past few years with various nonprofit and how they came to be. During my four years in college I was grateful to have had the opportunity to intern with five different nonprofit organizations in Boston and Los Angeles. In all five internship experiences, I was constantly impressed by how eager the organizations were to make a connection with me, meet with me in person, and discuss possible professional opportunities with their organization. I felt valued and appreciated as a potential employee or intern, even before I had a chance to actually work with them. Their level of engagement in my professional pursuits, passions, and previous work experience as a young person showed me how approachable, encouraging, and inclusive the nonprofit sector can be. As a college student, the nonprofit employees who reached out to me or took the initiative to meet in person with me after I had contacted them for an internship/volunteer opportunity, made me feel like my voice mattered and could potentially have an impact on their organization. Whether it was grabbing coffee with a potential Internship Manager of a local organization or Skyping with a nonprofit HR representative, they were sure to engage me in a meaningful and productive conversation about why I was passionate about their organization’s mission, how I could contribute to their organization, and how their nonprofit could benefit me. Although those can be standard interview questions, the way the conversation was approached and maintained was extremely personal and unique to me and my interests in social justice, nonprofit work, volunteerism, and advocacy. In fact, there were many times where the nonprofit employee would contact me first to follow up after our initial conversation which was an effective and individualized way to keep me engaged in their organization and internship/employment opportunities.

Now that I am a few months out of college and am still interested in furthering my passions in the nonprofit sector, social justice, and volunteerism, I’ve been able to appreciate how engaged, enthused, and meaningful my professional networking opportunities were with local nonprofits. As eager, passionate, and caring 20-somethings begin to launch their career in the nonprofit sector, it’s important for nonprofits to be aware of the influential relationship they have the potential to foster with possible recently graduated employees. For many of my friends who entered the for-profit field, many of their application and hiring processes were very indirect and impersonal. Knowing someone within the company they were applying to who could pass their resume off to someone higher up was one of the best ways to ensure that their resume didn’t get lost in the shuffle. But very rarely did my for-profit sector friends get to grab coffee, Skype, and even speak with the leadership of the company or the person who would oversee them. I understand that a for-profit’s capacity looks very different than a non-profit’s, but I use this example to emphasize the important role nonprofit professionals can play in bridging the gap of professional and personal with recent post-grads who are eager to dive into the nonprofit world. Nonprofit work is very personal, especially if you’re working on social, economic, political, and environmental justice, community development, and human/animal rights. Your work can be deeply connected to your community and society-at-large, so a lot of your own personal investment is necessary and important in order to mend the societal ills many organizations seek to combat.

With that said, if nonprofit work is personal for many people, then the way nonprofits reach out to and engage potential employees should be personalized too. Time is valuable and many nonprofits don’t have enough of it. But, people are valuable too and that’s something that nonprofits very much understand and appreciate. With how people and cause-centered many nonprofits are, nonprofit professionals have the potential to create meaningful, individualized, and influential connections that could really benefit both your organization and the possible employee. These connections should not go unnoticed. Millennials are already well-connected, motivated, and ready to spring into their professional pursuits, therefore, making them advantageous relationships. Keep in mind; the nonprofit sector is increasingly getting younger, which makes these millennial connections even more crucial and valuable. From my experience as a millennial, we are also a very individual generation – we strive to make personal connections to people, things, and the world around us, we are in search for unique experiences, we’re constantly looking to progress in society, and have very specific goals and aspirations in mind. With this in mind, my charge to nonprofit employees and professionals would be to make your networking connections with recent post-grads earnest, personal, and matched in enthusiasm. Recent post-grads who are interested in making a difference and sparking change have a spirited determination that can be molded and furthered if given the right professional opportunities and channels – which is where nonprofits come in. If you’re looking to hire a recent post-grad as an intern or employee, when you reach out to them, make sure you take note of their passions, personal convictions, and unique experience – that’s what nonprofits did for me and I am extremely thankful for that.




Why is the Nonprofit Sector Getting Younger? Young, Driven, and Passionate NGO Employees Share

Why is the Nonprofit Sector Getting Younger? Young, Driven, and Passionate NGO Employees ShareAs a recent post-grad who has long been passionate about working in the nonprofit sector, specifically in regards to social justice, environmental awareness, and grassroots causes, I was surprised to hear how many of my peers were either interested in going right into nonprofit or transitioning from for-profit to NGO after a few years out of college. From my experience as a twenty-something, I have seen a significant shift in what has been expected and encouraged of young professionals and post-grads. This shift is not to say that the for-profit sector (banking, real estate, business, finance, etc.) will be negatively impacted by this adjustment in employment and change in professional endeavors and mindsets, but I think this gradual move and interest in a different sector should definitely be noted, especially when interviewing young professionals for nonprofit sector positions.

One of the central differences between the for-profit and nonprofit sector is in the driving force and overall objective of the body of employees. In the simplest of terms, typically for-profits’ primary goal is to make commission while nonprofits are concerned with assisting their community in some way and when they do deal with money, it’s often in regards to keeping the organization operating. So, why have young people’s interests peaked around the nonprofit sector? The economic incentive and concisely and routinely operational approach has been extremely appealing to recent post-grads for quite some time, but after asking a few young professionals why they have transitioned to the nonprofit sector and what makes them stay, we start to gain a better sense of what the nonprofit world provides, its positive attributes, and what makes it a fruitful and morally rewarding field to work in, especially for young professionals.

Heidi (25) is a current employee at a nonprofit in Boston that helps provide top health care to everyone in the Boston community regardless of income. “I held jobs at two for-profit companies after graduation and after the initial thrill of starting each position, the high eventually wore off and I looked around and asked myself why I even cared about what I was slaving away for.” Heidi comments on her transition from for-profit to nonprofit, “The answer was that I didn’t care, not at all. Personally, I need to have a connection and passion for the person/company/organization I’m devoting most of my waking hours to.” Heidi, like many young nonprofit professionals, are driven by the cause and service that the organization provides to its community. Human, animal, and environmental-centered nonprofit organizations are unyielding in their meaningful and honest examination of community, which is why they have not only caught the eye of many young professionals, but also the heart.

“Seeing how my work can impact my organization in even the tiniest of ways is the most rewarding part of my job. When you help people see the difference your organization makes in ways both big and small, it’s ridiculously rewarding. Everyone in our office shares a common goal that isn’t just making money for our CEO. We’re fighting to show everyone out there how we’re changing health care for the better and how our research is saving lives.” After working her two for-profit jobs and landing her first nonprofit job, Heidi has decided to make nonprofit work her career and continue to facilitate change in her community.

But Heidi’s story mirrors many new and young nonprofit professionals who have recently discovered the meaningful contribution they can make to their local and global community through the nonprofit sector.

Similarly to Heidi, Sarah is a young nonprofit professional who says that one of the reasons she was pulled towards the nonprofit sector is because she has the opportunity to “meet and work with passionate people and really get to see people with different backgrounds come together for a common cause.”

Sarah works for an education-focused nonprofit in Providence, Rhode Island and says, “I’m so glad I made this choice [to work in nonprofit] as I have been able to really sharpen not only my teaching but administrative skills as I’ve risen up the ranks at my organization and gone from part-time teaching to Director of Education, Curriculum, and Assessment.”

Like she mentioned, while working at her nonprofit Sarah was able to develop new skills and discover new interests in different departments of the organization, which is a significant motivator for young people to work in the nonprofit sector. For millennials who can’t wait to get their hands on any new endeavor, professional opportunity, and innovative technology, young people are eager to diversify their skillsets and professional experience. With recent post-grads having several internships under their belt, young people are well-equipped to dive into new departments, cross over between a few, take on several different professional opportunities at the same organization, and take risks to try something new. The opportunity to gain new skills and become a professional ‘jack-of-all-trades’ by your mid to late 20s, is an advantageous aspect of working in the nonprofit sector, an environment where the more you can do and contribute, the better.

From my personal and professional experience, as well as Heidi and Sarah’s, the earnest dedication and drive young people have to contribute their skills, knowledge, and tech-savvy suggestions brings a distinct energy to an organization and fuels the fight for equality, fairness, and justice. Working in the nonprofit sector to better communities, improve the quality of life for people, and work towards a more just and verdant society is starting to not only be at the forefront of young people’s minds, but at the forefront of their professional pursuits as well. According to a 2011 study by ad agency network TBWA/Worldwide and TakePart, 7 in 10 young adults consider themselves social activists.  This percentage is becoming clearer through the professional passions of young people to normally take a lower pay than a for-profit job, work or volunteer in several different professional areas and departments, and commit themselves to an organization not only professionally but emotionally as well. Have no doubt that this younger shift in employment in the nonprofit sector will instill a reenergized and spirited effort to spark community change. The introduction of younger professionals in the nonprofit sector will bring about a more diverse age range in the field and certainly give rise to a united front of activists and philanthropists, of all ages, standing side by side, to fight for a common cause.

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