How important is the non-profit sector?

Despite limited resources, nonprofits take on our toughest social and global problems, and always are looking for new ways to learn, lead and grow. They address the symptoms as well as the causes of deeply rooted problems, and serve as civic society’s research-and-development arm.

Overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated and at risk as never before, the nonprofit sector represents what is best about America and remains the best hope for addressing our most urgent social and global problems.

Having grown more rapidly than business or government for decades, the nonprofit sector now accounts for 5 percent of gross domestic product and 10 percent of the workforce.

Nonprofits struggle, continually, to raise money, sometimes understanding the tools and techniques of fundraising, but rarely recognizing that truly effective fundraising must be part of a larger vision of creating a culture of philanthropy within the organization and connecting donors to larger needs in the community.

Many nonprofits are getting better at building effective business models, understanding and engaging donors, and working in partnership with their supporters to take on community problems and enlist additional partners.

Charitable giving, whether in the form of money, know-how or time, is fundamental to our society, and many nonprofits are doing a better job of nurturing donors for the greater good.

So despite the lack of resources, shortage of leadership, disproportionate clout of big players, lameness of many consultants, and ideological rigidity of many foundations and advocacy groups, the nonprofit sector offers the best hope for addressing our most urgent social and global problems and making our communities better places to live and work.

[Philanthropy Journal]

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