Prepare to be radically welcomed in Minneapolis-St. Paul!

Prepare to be radically welcomed in Minneapolis-St. Paul!


On June 26, we’ll be welcoming over one hundred of you, our fellow young nonprofit-y friends in Minneapolis-St. Paul! We are super thrilled you’ll be joining us. In honor of that momentous event, Jamie invited me to tell you about one of the many things that makes the Twin Cities chapter special.

And since we’ll soon be welcoming you, what would be better than telling you about our RADICAL Welcoming Initiative? You might be wondering why we started this initiative. Inspired by a local nonprofit Mixed Blood Theater, in 2012 we asked our members if they felt welcome at our events.





A troubling statistic, expressed with pizza

To our astonishment, a whopping 43% of our survey respondents reported they felt ‘kind-of’ or ‘not at all’ welcome at our events. How did this come about? To explain, I like to use what I call the “three blind men and the elephant” model of member experience.

In the story of the blind men and the elephant, each blind man feels one are of the elephant.  One feels the elephant’s trunk and says it’s a rope. Another feels the elephant’s side and says it’s a wall. The third feels the trunk and says it’s a hose.

As we get deeper into the organizations we serve in, we become like these men. Our focus narrows until we only see our “part”, and we lose the perspective that the newcomer has — that of the entire elephant — in this case, the member experience.

Unfortunately, that means that our perception of the impression we’re giving potential members can be disastrously different than what we *think* that experience is like.

What We Think Our Membership Experience is Like


What Our Membership Experience is *Really* Like


Knowing this, we decided as an organization to assess our member experience, and put welcoming at the center of everything that we do. We started our initiative by having a RADICAL Welcoming Summit (and PIZZA PARTY! Hence the silly pizza pie graph.)

During that meeting, we brainstormed and then prioritized many actions that we could take to make our events, online communications, and even our member registration process more welcoming. You can read a recap of that brainstorming and summit here.

As a result, I’m pleased to report that just after a year of making this a priority for the organization, we were able to improve the rate at which people report that we’re welcoming by 10%! Clearly there’s a lot of room for improvement still, but it feels good to be on the right track.

If you’re joining us in Minneapolis-St. Paul, be sure to ask us about our welcoming efforts, and be sure to enjoy them yourself at our Networking Recess reception and the LGBTQ and Allies Young Professionals Happy Hour!



Cary Walski

Cary Walski is the membership chair of the YNPN Twin Cities chapter. She owns her own web development firm Copilot, and works part time at MAP for Nonprofits, where she runs a program dedicated to helping nonprofits learn to use technology more effectively. Find her on Twitter at @cwalski.