Forward Together

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NPQ’s e-Newsletter of March 2, 2009, discusses a new nonprofit coalition on the development of the future role of the nonprofit sector in the U.S. and how to best advance the public interest though these organizations. You can download the declaration [PDF]. We have also included a link if your organization wants to sign the coalition’s declaration. Finally, let other NPQ readers know what you think about this effort by commenting on our web site.

Sign the Declaration.

  • Liz Callahan

    We, too, believe that our sector is poorly named. In fact, the name of our organization – Center for Community Benefit Organizations – is a modest attempt to do just that. However, we strongly urge you not to refer to us as the citizen sector. Many, many organizations serve community residents who are not citizens. And, without a national immigrant policy in place that addresses how those community members can become citizens, calling us the citizen sector is not only a misnomer, but an exclusionary, insensitive one at that. I’ve heard “social profit sector,” “public benefit sector,” and, our favorite: “community benefit sector.” Any of those labels would be better than “citizen sector.”

  • Aaron Wilder

    I could not agree more! I first heard the term “Citizen Sector” in a presentation by staff of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. The rationale given was to call the sector by what it is and not by what it is not (non-profit, non-governmental, etc.). However, I had the same reaction: this “sector” has as one of its essential functions to offer services to those unrepresented by the term “citizen.” In my opinion, this is subverting the sector to government, who asserts who is a citizen and who is not. Rather, the sector needs a name that will give it equal status with the public (government) and private (for-profit) sectors. So, a positive first revision of the “Forward Together” proclamation would be to call the sector both by what it is and also a name that shows it is equal to the other two in necessity in reshaping our (and the global) economy. I do like your term “community benefit sector,” but think it is a little long. The name I’ve always preferred is the “social sector.” I apologize in advance for being such a literalist, but the reason I like this term is due to the definition of “social:” involving allies or confederates; marked by pleasant companionship; tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships; and relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group or the welfare of human beings as members of society. I especially like the third definition and think it really gets to the heart of “Forward Together.” Now, I realize that “social” can be a classist term, but in that it seeks to look after the welfare of all human beings is, to me, very positive and I think it can implicate the entire sector from rights advocacy to the environment to the arts to healthcare to education. Anyone else care to share their thoughts on this sector’s unified name?

  • Conni Gratop Lewis

    Groups focused on clean air, clean water and other related environmental issues are conspicuous by their absence. But then the declaration ignores these critical issues which affect all people (not to mention the rest of the animal kingdom.) Environmental groups are also part of the nonprofit sector, and they have been left out. I wonder why.