October 7, 2008

An Open Letter

Dear Friends and Colleagues of the Nonprofit Community,

No doubt you are concerned.

The current financial crisis has everyone in a tizzy, arguably no one group of people more than nonprofit managers and executives. Rightly so. The bread and butter of your respective organizations are the very people that have been and will be affected the most by the financial fallout. In all likelihood, these next few months and years will be an uphill battle for many organizations and maybe even see the end to a handful of hard-working, mission-driven groups with the betterment of our communities in mind. But I’m not here to coddle or console you, or tell that it will be alright. I have a little something different in mind. In my last two posts so graciously published here I highlighted my youthful optimism and my growing excitement for the career that is ahead of me, but today I want to leave with you an impassioned challenge: step up and shift the balance of power in our society.

The nonprofit community has continually played the proverbial part of the red-headed step-child in our three-sectored society. Always put on the back burner concerning legislation and news cycles, and so anonymous that many states have launched public awareness campaigns, so misunderstood that people running for high elected offices characterize community workers as not having “actual responsibilities.” This has to change, and it can. In fact, I believe that the nonprofit sector is uniquely positioned to gain the attention of our nation in a way never before imagined.

Wall Street is making people question the viability of the business sector, and the way in which our 110th Congress is handling this situation (and others, for that matter) isn’t garnering much public support, either. What better time than now is there for the nonprofit community to step up and shift the balance of power? For centuries, we have been the people that victims of natural disaster, domestic violence, joblessness, and homeless turn to. We have been the people that host after-school childcare, art shows, and theatrical performances. We have advocated for the rights of people who have no voice, and will continue until every voice is heard - including ours.

So with this, I challenge you. Instead of wallowing in the impending drought of individual donations, turn the tables and highlight the consistency and reliability of the nonprofit sector. Our great nation was built on the foundations of voluntary action and community organization. Let’s start acting like it.


“Trouble is only opportunity in work clothes.”
Henry Kaiser

PS - It’s important to note that the financial prudence nonprofit organizations is largely what has kept our sector thriving with such longevity. Since we can’t carry large amounts of debt, we have and will continually look for creative ways to generate funding when pressed. If only our colleagues in other sectors shared such a sentiment…

*Note: This post was originally published on the Nonprofit Congress blog.


African Kelli said...

Giddyup. Great post! Now is the time to dig in, work harder and be more positive. We'll get through this together.

Aaron Stiner, DRB said...

The citizen sector! It's all about business, gov't and nonprofits coming together to develop citizen solutions for citizens, by citizens.

That is how we take our country from good to great!

Organizations should be the tool we use to deliver the best solutions for the most citizens.