What’s Up in the Nonprofit Sector? A Small Window

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As many of you know, NPQ starts its editorial year with a survey of its readers. In the survey, we ask a number of questions aimed at understanding what is on your mind and what you would like for NPQ to cover. Below, I have included a small selection of the answers we have received to date. In some cases, they are multilayered…

  • Do social impact bonds really work to move the needle in improving communities? Are there case studies on successful outcomes of L3Cs? What is latest on regulating 501c4 activities? What really is the ROI on social media efforts? What are best practices on harnessing the intelligence and institutional knowledge of the soon-to-be-exiting baby boomer generation across all industries?
  • How do we deal with increasing polarization of country and congressional districts; What messages work or don’t work for reaching the disengaged; How can you join with strange bedfellows to have policy impact; How can you meet funders who don’t accept applications; Why is housing disappearing as a public policy issue; How do we de-siloize our NGOs and political groupings? Is there any effective cooperation anywhere in our sector? Why do progressives seem to just give up on issues that are hard (e.g., climate change, austerity)?
  • I’d actually love to learn more about people and organizations that are serving as cultural ambassadors between the sectors. Not necessarily new models (Bcorps, etc.) but examples of people or organizations that are actively involved in helping the three sectors work more effectively together and build better understanding and respect for what the others bring to partnerships.
  • Education—are all the experiments working? What are nonprofits doing besides charter schools and what’s been effective? The case for small nonprofits—“Small is beautiful?” The roots of nonprofit activity and a return to the power of leveraging volunteer energy and raising unheard voices (vs. the sector as a profession like any other) as a response to what may be permanent reduction of cash resources? Accountability—have all the changes in audit requirements actually made nonprofits more transparent and effective? Occupy followup. Midterm elections and what they signal. This would be a great brainstorming topic

In some cases, they are short and to the point…

  • Succession planning; HR strategies for smaller orgs to incorporate best practices (so they’re doing more than basic transactional HR practices);
  • Program related investments—what’s working; successful public/private partnerships, especially around employment and emerging skills needs; giving trends & analyses; case studies of national organizations;
  • Why environmental giving is so low; current trends in corporate giving including how they view their role within their communities; innovative ideas about organizational structure, governance, permeability;
  • 1. Regional differences in the role of the nonprofit sector—can we learn anything from that? 2. Where is foundation philanthropy headed? 3. Whither goest the individual giver?
  • Neighborhood revitalization—where is it going in the future, who is buying into the concept?
  • Philanthropy in mental health care
  • How is social enterprise changing the landscape—or is it?

And in some cases, we see a number of responses convene, even at a rudimentary level…

  • How rural economic development program are moving forward in community assistance.
  • How rural economies and economic development is changing
  • What is happening with donors in the rural area? Where are they all going?
  • Changing trends in rural philanthropy.
  • Rural philanthropy

We take these kinds of trends very seriously.

But the more responses we get, the wiser we will be about our coverage of the nonprofit and philanthropic world this year. At the end of this week, we will close the survey, and if you have not provided us with your point of view, we will be that much less able to discern where we ought to spend our time. So, take the survey right now and join the 800 readers who have already responded. The sector will thank you for it.