Straw into Gold (Dec 02)

Print Share on LinkedIn More

I am sensitive to my role as your correspondent. Not long ago, somebody told me that after receiving an e-newsletter she had commented, "Things must be in really bad shape if Ruth is so down." I got the message that I am supposed to "keep a good thought," but sometimes . . .

It really is remarkable how quickly the world changes. Organizations that were in growth mode just over a year ago are now struggling to manage multiple waves of financial losses — all the while responding to escalating demands for services.

We hear stories of grants already committed being rescinded or cut back to a fraction of the original level. Whole fields are reeling from the impact of foundation decisions eliminating crucial focus areas from their portfolios. Individual giving is coming in at much lower levels than anticipated and, of course, there are those devastating public sector budget cuts.

I guess the good thought is that, as Lester Salamon observes in the overview chapter for his new book, "The State of Nonprofit America" (a great read by the way), nonprofits are resilient . . . and nonprofit managers are creative and adaptive and passionate enough about what they do to scheme mightily, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

I am attaching an article, "Spinning Straw into Gold" from the next issue that introduces five organizations who share their strategies for weathering the current environment. Over the next year, we will follow this report with a running dialogue with these organizations, adding others as they step forward.

We want to thank the organizations agreeing to be profiled in this article. As always, we would love to hear your feedback. And if you have a story to tell about how your organization is handling cutbacks, this is the place to tell it.