Introducing the YNPN Database Project!

Introducing the YNPN Database Project!

Introducing-Database-Project-300x198.jpgWe are surrounded by data. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight regularly informs us on how data can be used to tell stories about politics, sports, science, and economics. Andrew Hogue of FourSquare will tell you how data can explain the affinity for ice cream (that’s right – apparently for every two degrees the temperature goes up, check-ins at ice cream shops go up by 2%). Heck, we even learned last week that the cassette tapes of our childhoods now have the capacity to store and backup huge amounts of data.

But today we are here to let you know about a data plan that goes beyond the one affiliated with your smartphone and instead involves some exciting new ways YNPN is thinking about data! Many of us come from chapters where we have our own data management or collection systems that range from sophisticated data systems to Google docs to lots of little pieces of paper held together by chewing gum. The two of us, chapter leaders from YNPN Boston (Jodi Benenson) and YNPN Twin Cities (Cary Walski), are working to figure out how YNPN can use data to help our network work harder and smarter.

As many of you may know, YNPN National has been working for a few years to figure out how to best move forward with a data-positive culture for the organization, and we’re going to build on these previous efforts with three goals in mind:

1. To identify a data system that will make life easier for you. We’re hoping to find a centralized, cloud-based solution that will allow us to store data for all YNPN chapters in one place. Our first challenge is to figure out whether this is even possible, and so we have begun talking with organizations that have undertaken similar projects to learn more about the data system process. We have also begun speaking with potential database partners to learn what their platforms are and how the platforms align with our professional needs as an organization. We will soon be reaching out to all of you about your chapter’s data needs and ways you can be involved.

2. To enable YNPN National to amplify the voice and visibility of young nonprofit professionals. Back in February, Trish shared some lessons that she’s learned over from years from people doing some awesome work in the nonprofit sector. One of these lessons was “Listen to data that speaks to both the head and the heart.” As part of a network of nearly 50,000 young nonprofit professionals, we have an opportunity to leverage data from our members, potential members, and the partners that support us and to convert these data into fuel for strengthening our network and the sector. This fuel has the potential to improve our experiences, to strengthen our interactions, and to make life a little easier for all of us.

3. To kick start a data-positive culture to track and build our success as a network. A data system will only be effective if it aligns with the mission and culture of both YNPN National and each individual chapter. Doing so will allow YNPN National to lead us in making data-driven decisions that reflect our voices as young nonprofit professionals. As chapter leaders ourselves, we recognize the importance of a data system that meets these criteria!

So, are you excited about this project yet? Are you wondering how you can be involved? Here are a few ways you can participate in this process:

  • Be a cheerleader. If you support this project, talk it up to your peers! The more people who participate, the better solution we can find for all of us. A few positive words or Tweets (or sharing this blogpost!) to encourage people to participate in this will go a long way.
  • Respond. Each chapter should expect to get a survey from us very soon about your current tech and database use, as well as your hopes and fears for a data system. Please fill out this survey! For interested chapters, we will follow up on the survey with one-on-one interviews to get more in depth information about your needs.
  • Join the team. We also invite you to be a part of an advisory group we’re assembling to provide input and create policies to protect the privacy of individuals and individual chapters. Email us to join!
  • Email us. Speaking of email, not only do we both love email, but we also want to answer any questions you may have about the project. You can reach us at We look forward to hearing from you!

Chapter Congress reps: Keep an eye out for a survey coming soon on your chapter’s data usage and needs.