Welcome to the winter 2010 issue of NPQ. This issue focuses on nonprofit capacity building in the midst of change. You will find some wonderful articles in this installment. But we think this issue also marks the beginning of a conversation about how changes in our environment change our notions of what is important in organizational capacity. Please contribute your own ideas to this dialogue through the journal and online. Thus NPQ online will be a central platform for the critical dialogues of the sector, drawing in the perceptions, opinions, ideas, and knowledge of those on the front lines. You will have many ways in which to contribute to this new platform—for instance, you can help us develop and shape important stories incrementally as indicators of trends appear, you can comment on policy proposals as they emerge from government at all levels, or you can help to reshape our understanding of philanthropic practice for the next century. You can even act as a regular contributing lay journalist, finding and pursuing breaking stories.
This has been such a banner year for NPQ’s work, so we thought that providing you an update was in order. NPQ is in a flashpoint position because it is a nonprofit and a publisher and because both these sectors are experiencing intense evolution that borders on revolution. Publishing has become more interactive and all its business models are asunder, and nonprofits have made major operational adjustments as well.
It’s no secret that over the past two years, the world in which nonprofits work has changed enormously. The politics, policies, economics, and resources that deeply affect the work of philanthropy and nonprofits are in a state of flux. But who is tracking these developments at the multiple levels at which this change is occurring?
NPQ has always tried to consult its readers on its editorial content. Two years ago, we consulted a group of readers who told us that this period of time would usher in tectonic shifts and that NPQ needed to respond to the pace and proportion of change. So literally overnight, NPQ decided to add daily publishing to what we now recognize was a formerly slow quarterly cycle. We believe that these changes are necessary to help you stay abreast of what has already been two years of fast-moving chaos.
We started to send you information about the operating environment in the form of the online Nonprofit Newswire column each morning. At first, several readers unsubscribed, but then we started to grow. Readers began to redistribute the information from the Newswire, and we developed an active social life on Twitter and Facebook.
Meanwhile, NPQ has also developed into something of a small-but-functional newsroom. Writers and editors have “beats,” and content must be produced quickly and imbued with a sense of context. We have to make meaning of the streams of information out there. So we have assigned our most seasoned staff to sort through thousands of news reports each day. From these stories, we choose those that we believe indicate a shift in thinking or practice. We cover the major new events, such as the midterm elections, and the small happenings as well, such as the closing of a therapeutic pool in a rural area, and try to make sense of the trends we see over time. You often help us do that.
This means, quite literally, that we go to bed late and we get up early, and in these extra moments, we are thinking of our readers’ needs. By tracking online, we monitor daily which pieces you read. We read every comment you make in response to an article.
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Here at NPQ, we think we are writing the history of an era in civil society in real time and in response to your interests. You are voting for NPQ’s content with your figurative feet.
As a direct result of our care in making our online publishing responsive, NPQ has experienced enormous growth. In the span of two years, we moved from having the lowest online traffic compared with competitor publications to having the second highest, and it’s rising fast.
By any measure, NPQ has expanded at a phenomenal rate. Many of our metrics appear to be on steroids. The number of Web visitors is up by 540 percent compared with two years ago, and the number of unique visitors has grown at a rate that beats our own projections—even an October 2010 projection that was ambitious.
In the coming year, NPQ plans to involve you even more in helping write the history of our times from the perspective of civil society. NPQ will adopt a “collaborative journalism” model that will involve members of our community of readers more deeply in developing content.
We are more than excited about taking this next big step and look forward to the increasing intelligence of our work that will result from your inclusion in it.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the hard work of our board of directors (who are listed on page 2) and, in particular, Bruce Trachtenberg of the Communications Network. He not only served on our board of directors but also wrote daily for our Nonprofit Newswire column. His contribution has been priceless.