Welcome to the Fall 2007 issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly. It is full of interesting organizational stories and case studies brimming with drama, suspense, twists and turns—you know, the daily stuff of nonprofit life. We’ve all heard them, the stories of nonprofit organizations that folded unexpectedly, merged with an unlikely partner, faced board turmoil, or achieved unprecedented success.
The feature stories in this issue focus on the kinds of moments that mark a turning point for many nonprofits in our sector and ultimately propel them, willingly or not, toward organizational transformation. Change may come from external forces, such as mergers, leadership transitions, board shifts, or restructuring; or it may come from long-brewing internal troubles, forces that change the landscape slowly but definitively, or an unexpected storm. As you read about Coastal Family Health Center, a community health center ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, you will learn about the perilous, but remarkable survival of a community institution, its employees, and those it serves as they recover from enormous personal, community, and organizational devastation. Tenderloin Health also offers another story of survival after an internal storm: a leadership and organizational life-stage transition that rocked the organization to its core. And, United Housing suffered a shock to the system when it lost a major grant on which it depended. As a result, it not only had to rethink its funding strategy but also reframe its internal and external relationships and restructure its core goals.
Then there is the story of the Girl Scouts, which is undergoing a major transformation across the country. Like other federated organizations, it is rethinking its guiding assumptions and operating structures. The changes at the Girl Scouts will have a lasting impact on its affiliates and on the way other multisite nonprofits approach similar challenges to their identity and practices.
This issue deals with birth and death as well. The story of ONE DC helps us understand how organizations are born and leave the nest to face the joys and challenges of independence, while the Metro Arts and Film board faces the ultimate question of when to close the doors and how to honor its commitment to its work.
The stories are real, and the insights are yours to keep and use as you pursue your work in this sector. In the tradition of case studies, we have given you the story and the facts but have left the conclusions up to you. We hope these stories become the kind that you share with your friends and discuss into the late hours of the night.
Finally, we bring you some down-to-earth practical articles to round out the issue including an examination of the new audit standards and what organizations need to know and do as they work with them, and a review of podcasting for nonprofits, which looks at organizations that are using them and guides readers in considering whether and how to tap into this communication channel.