In November, Iowa Campus Compact VISTA members took the Iowa Non-Profit Summit by storm. We all set out to learn as much as possible from the conference, held at Iowa State University (we may have also enjoyed our two days away from our desks). As each IACC VISTA has different goals and jobs, we each took away something different from the event. ​

Some IACC VISTAs past and present at the Iowa Nonprofit Summit 2015. Back row L-R- Geovanni Almanza, Suzie Stroud, Kristina Kofoot; Front row L-R Brynn McDonnell, Hannah Pope, Katie Zellmer, and Katherine Sipple

1. Communicating measurable outcomes
I attended a session by Dr. Nancy Franz titled Mastering Program Logic Models: Articulating Your Program Theory of Change. This workshop provided excellent resources to use for development of logic models, how they are useful when communicating your logic of change, and also ways they can be used to help in grant completion. This information is valuable as I continue my VISTA term, education, and career as a social worker with a desire to work in the nonprofit world to communicate measurable outcomes as an agency, within programs, and in the community as a whole.
-Suzie Stroud, Project Concern, Dubuque, Iowa

2. Clear expectations and strong relationships
The keynote presentation by David Dye focused on having a “Winning Well Mindset”. This started with a focus on cultivating employees and volunteers, rather than motivating them. Everything and everyone has potential if you cultivate it. Throughout the presentation Dye focused on different ideas and tactics that individuals as well as organization can utilize to increase performance and to provide clear expectations. These included the need to focus on results, but not so much that you get overwhelmed or overrun by them. The last and perhaps most important point that Dye made was the need to focus on relationships. You and your organization won’t ever succeed if you don’t have the ability to build strong and lasting relationships. 
-Kristina Kofoot, UNI, Cedar Falls, Iowa

The Dubuque IACC VISTAs at the Iowa Nonprofit Summit — Photo from Katherine Sipple

3. Acknowledge your achievements
I attended a workshop by Jessica Link about overcoming staff barriers when implementing a new volunteer program. I am working on developing the volunteer program at my site this year, so this workshop was very relevant to the work I’m doing. The two most important things I learned from this session were the importance of communication and celebration. Communication with staff about the volunteer program should be frequent, transparent, two-way and messages should be communicated using multiple channels. It’s also great to celebrate the wins with the volunteer program, both big and small. Find something to celebrate about volunteer, staff, programs, and your organization and vocalize it often!
-Katherine Sipple, Operation: New View, Dubuque, Iowa

4. Collaborations are like friendships
On the first day of the Iowa Nonprofit Summit, the keynote speaker Vicki Clark addressed the need for collaborations. Collaborations are like friendships that you have nurture. You don’t want too many “best friends” because it becomes too crowded and too much work. Instead each collaboration sits on a continuum moving back and forth between complete autonomy, collaboration, and true alliances. Just as different friends meet different needs so do an organization’s collaborative partners. 
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”- Henry Ford
- Katie Zellmer, Iowa Campus Compact, Des Moines, Iowa

5. Revolution
I got the most out of Emily Shields’ session on the political process and lobbying. Emily did a great job explaining the political process in an unbiased fashion. As someone who is pretty cynical about the political system, and as someone who has also had successes in lobbying and other forms of activism, this session renewed my idealism that despite the political system being polluted and bought with dark money, the voice of the people is the most powerful currency. 
“Revolution is about the need to re-evolve political, economic and social justice and power back into the hands of the people.” Bobby Seale
-Brynn McDonnell, Dubuque Human Rights Department, Dubuque, Iowa

Interesting in joining our VISTA Program? We are seeking host sites right now (applications due January 22) and will be recruiting members soon!

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