Five Years Old Today!


Five years of blogging as Nonprofit Chapin! You know what that means – a complete blog overhaul. New layout, new photos (courtesy of the supremely talented Krishna Patel), new About Me page, even some new stuff on my Twitter page. It’s a new year and time for a refresh. Let me know what you think!

Professionally, I have grown a tremendous amount this year. I moved from a Donor Relations Manager role, where I was focusing mostly on direct mail, grants, and donor database management, to an Associate Director of Development role, where I am in charge of a fundraising team while there is no Director of Development. I am jumping head first into some meaty management issues and getting a ton of great experience thinking about how to be strategic with my energy and efforts. With managing a department comes a variety of different types of tasks, and it can be tough to manage my time without working 12 hours a day. But I’m learning it, and gaining a lot of wonderful experience.

If you (or someone you know) has found yourself at a loss of how to move forward with your development team, I would love to help. I have gained so much great experience that I’d enjoy working with other nonprofits to reimagine how their team might work best. Feel free to contact me on my About Me page or by leaving a comment here, and we can talk about working together. I’d love to be of help, wherever you are!

Here’s to another five years!


Year Four of Nonprofit Chapin & Tough Conversations

Chapin Cole Twitter Banner 2015

Today marks four years that I’ve had this blog and let me tell you, my third year was definitely my hardest so far. As you may remember, I received my Masters in Nonprofit Administration in December 2013, right before my blog turned three. I was inspired and ready to tackle some important issues about nonprofit sector effectiveness. And then… life happened. I got wrapped up in the day to day happenings of being a Donor Relations Manager at a very busy nonprofit and almost all of my thought about nonprofit efficiencies switched to wondering how I could stay sane at my job. Then… things clicked.

I realized that while I still had passion and interest in sector-wide issues, the issues I was dealing with on a daily basis weren’t as pretty, and were just as important (or even more important) to talk about. As nonprofit employees, we have a very unique set of challenges and issues to deal with. In years one and two of this blog, I focused more on posting about that. Year three, as I hoped to continue my journey into academia related to the nonprofit sector, unfortunately fell short. But I want to make a renewed commitment to come back to this blog and talk about the nitty gritty of handling yourself as a nonprofit employee. How can we all work hard, thrive, and still go home with some energy? I’m still learning myself, but I hope I can start some dialogue here to get us on the path to some shared ideas.

So, thanks for being patient with me. In year four I hope to tackle some important issues that we all deal with, and bring to light some not-so-pretty subjects. That’s the only way we’ll all get through this journey alive, and at the end of the day, we all hope we get out better than alive! We hope to get out thriving!


P.S. I updated my layout, headshot, About Me blurb, and About Me page – what do you think?

Three Years of Nonprofit Chapin


Yesterday marked three years since I started blogging here at Nonprofit Chapin. As you may have read in About Nonprofit Chapin, I started this blog because I had heard that blogging would be good for my professional development. Three years later, I can definitely say that’s the case.

Blogging causes me to think critically about my work and the nonprofit sector and communicate these thoughts in a concise, easy-to-understand way. It has helped me put my work and myself into the larger context of the sector and even the world. It has connected me with other like-minded bloggers. And it has given me the confidence that my opinions about important issues are valid and appreciated.

In the next year, I would like to focus my blogging on issues that pertain to the nonprofit sector but also may cross into other sectors. I would like to help us understand the ways we are all changing the world, no matter which sector we work in. For we all have an important role in making lasting change.

I’m looking forward to another great year of sharing my love for nonprofit issues. Thank you for being a part of the Nonprofit Chapin community – I appreciate you!


Story Time: Not Just for Babies


Thrilled to share that my third guest blog post, Story Time: Not Just for Babieswas published last week on Nancy Schwartz’s Getting Attention! Helping Nonprofits Succeed through Effective Marketing. I had a great time writing about the importance of telling stories in nonprofit marketing. People aren’t moved by numbers or data, they are moved by relating to someone. I don’t discount the importance of data and the integral role it should play in nonprofit marketing. But to get someone to act, they must feel. And to get someone to feel, they must understand.

Check it out!


Using Social Media in Your Strategy


Between the creation of the idea of “slacktivism” and the general questioning of the importance of social media in creating movements or change, there are a lot of people claiming that a Like on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter don’t mean much. “Clicking a mouse is so easy. Does it do anything concrete?” they question. Last week I came across this great piece on the role that social media can play in creating social change called Can a “Like” Save a Life? on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.

The author outlines the ways that social media contributes to the larger good, by pointing out the unique things that social media platforms can offer to further nonprofit organizations. My favorite of her points was the power of influencers. No matter what the cause is, if you get the right people talking about it on social media, it’s gold. It’s just the same as offline communications.

I encourage you to read the piece. The takeaway I came away with was that online efforts should be one component of your marketing strategy. It’s not the solution to everything but it’s still important for you to incorporate. Whether you like it or not, many of our activity is happening online, so nonprofits better be there, too.


2 Years & 100 Posts


Two things to celebrate today! I started this blog exactly two years today, and this is my 100th post.

No pressure or anything!

I just want to take a moment to reflect on the past two years, what it’s given me, and the role blogging has had in my life.

In the past two years, I was accepted to and started the Masters in Nonprofit Administration program at University of San Francisco. I moved from San Diego to the bay area to pursue this program and move back to where my family is. I have had two different jobs, and am thrilled to share that I am starting something new in the coming weeks! My new opportunity, while still in development, is at a higher level than I’ve worked before. I have a successful career, am learning like crazy in my Masters program, and continue to rock it in the nonprofit sector.

Blogging has so much to do with this. Through this blog, I have connected with thought leaders in the sector. When at networking events, people commonly recognize my name and ask “Chapin – are you Nonprofit Chapin?” I started this blog as a way for me to process my experience and thoughts about my experience in the sector. And while I still do that, and that will always be the core of this blog, a strong consequence of this has been that others have recognized and appreciate that I put my voice out there.

I am so grateful to all of you, my readers, for your participation in my experience, whether it be silent or spoken. Thank you!


The Secret to Marketing to Millennials – There Isn’t One


I’m excited to share that I was asked by Nancy Schwartz of Getting Attention!: Helping Nonprofits Succeed Through Successful Marketing to write a guest post for her blog. The post went up on Friday and you can read it here. Since she’s asked me to do a series of posts from the Millennial perspective, I wanted to set the stage that the Millennial generation cannot and should not be generalized. In the post, I list some of the reasons this is the case, and what to do about it.

Readers, I want to share with you that the only reason this happened is because Nancy, who is a well known and respected nonprofit marketing expert, came across my blog and enjoyed my voice. I am thrilled to be entering this partnership, as I know it will be phenomenal for my name recognition and my professional development. I again want to stress the organic nature of this arrangement and the fact that you can easily get there too – simply by starting a blog! I write about whatever I want, whenever I want, in my voice… and it’s been recognized! Very validating!

Happy reading!


The Importance of Technology, In the Words of a Busy Millennial


Today is my third and final day at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), an annual conference hosted by Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). It’s being hosted in San Francisco this year, and someone recommended that I attend, so the stars were aligned. And let me tell you – it’s awesome!! I signed up for the conference thinking it would be good for me to be connected to the latest and greatest ideas in technology, as I work with my work’s donor database and other online platforms. Little did I know that the conference wouldn’t just show me techie tools, but instead lead me to evaluate the role technology plays in our organization and how it can have a role in furthering our mission… or any nonprofit activity, for that matter!

Beyond the nonprofit organization aspect, these past couple of days have reminded me of the importance of technology in general. We all know that technology is important because of the computers on our desk. But I’m here to bring a different perspective to the table – that of a busy millennial.

Here are a few of the reasons technology is important to me.

  • It helps me refine my voice. As I’ve mentioned before, blogging has really helped me develop my thoughts regarding the nonprofit sector, millennial issues, and so much more. But beyond that, having an online presence has given me a new part of my identity to craft. I have spent most of the breakout sessions I’ve participated in at NTC live tweeting the content (check out mytimeline here to read some of the great stuff I’ve been learning). This is reinforcing the ideas I’m learning and helps solidify them in my mind, and gives me ownership of the content I agree on. It’s now a part of me, which I love.
  • The things I need are anywhere I need them (with Wifi, of course). Being a busy millennial, I try to minimize my time doing extraneous activities. Organizing is one of those things. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some list making, but that takes time, and I don’t have a lot of that. Technology has allowed for sharing, collaborating, and housing documents in the cloud, so that I don’t have to worry about putting things on a flash drive or – gasp – a CD. It’s all at my fingertips.
  • It’s green. Remember the days of paper planners? CDs, tapes, and even DVDs? Address books (OK I still need to transition my old one)? At the NTC there is a QR code for each session’s evaluation. No more stacks of paper and trash. Same for the paperwork I need – I don’t have extra things to keep track of. Technology is doing some amazing things to green our world, and for that, we should be thankful.

I must say that after experiencing the NTC I am hooked and really hope I can continue to go each year. I highly recommend it to you, too! Look into a membership for NTEN – it’s very affordable for students, including Masters students – and join! It’s an amazing resource, and it’s not just for IT staff!



Celebrating One Year of Blogging

I’m commemorating blogging for one year with a blog redesign! I’ve changed my photo, headline, About Me section, and design of the homepage! I’ve even changed my Twitter bio to go along with everything. Please let me know what you think!

What a good exercise this was. Now that it’s been a year, I understand better what I’m passionate about and what comes naturally when I’m thinking about blogging. It wasn’t until I put it into words that I’ve really understood what this blog has become.

Nonprofit Chapin is not just about my experience working in the nonprofit sector. It’s framing my experience in the context of stress management and other important things to incorporate into your life as a nonprofit staffer. It’s about creating personal and professional vision. It’s about getting your needs met, whether that be in the professional or personal sense. It’s about putting you first – something I’m working on as we go! These are the things I’ve felt compelled to write about, and this is what the blog has become.

When I started this blog, I wanted to make sure to write everything from my personal perspective. I didn’t want to pretend to be an expert in the nonprofit sector, in Gen-Y, in anything. I wanted to write from my heart and see what happens. And the product has been something beautiful: writing about the aspects of personal success that aren’t necessarily so prevalent in the workforce – happiness, peace, and love, for yourself and others. These are the things I’m working on for myself, so I’m happy to have you alongside with me.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you are continuing to enjoy this journey as much as I am!


Updating My About Me Page

Describe yourself in four paragraphs. Not so easy, is it? Putting together my About Nonprofit Chapin page on this blog turned out to be just as challenging. And updating it was even worse.

I had been waiting to update the page until I had started both my new job and new graduate school program. They both are directly related to what I write about in this blog so I knew they’d be applicable. So, I waited, and waited… and waited. Then, the time came. I needed to update the page.

Putting together the history of my employment and involvement in the nonprofit sector wasn’t so bad. That’s really all facts. It’s what comes after that which was so difficult. Not difficult, per say, but… weird. And interesting to see how much had changed in the last six months.

Do you remember what your goals were six months ago? I do, mostly because I’ve been in the process of applying to graduate school, jobs, and the like, so I’ve needed to write everything down. What has been most striking to me is how much my goals have changed in the past six months.

I’ve always been on the path of becoming a nonprofit CEO. I’ve admired the way CEOs get the opportunity to connect with all types of people, collaborate, and make decisions that have huge impacts on their organization and ultimately the cause they are working for. Three out of my five most important values relate to things a nonprofit CEO would do: leadership, leaving a legacy, and making a difference.

But in the past six months I’ve really been thinking about what these values mean. What does making a difference mean? What does leadership mean? And that’s got me thinking – why do I want to be a nonprofit CEO?

In fact, one could argue there are bigger ways to affect the nonprofit sector. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about becoming a consultant. One consultant could affect multiple CEOs in one week, which in turn could affect multiple organizations and multiple causes. And although a consultant isn’t necessarily the leader of an organization, she is a leader in her own right, forging ahead with best practices in the sector. And she’s definitely leaving a legacy and making a difference.

Of course, I don’t know where my path will lead, and the most important thing is that I’m keeping an open mind. Especially with this Masters in Nonprofit Administration, I know I’ll end up somewhere I can definitely exercise my most important values.