Social Impact Exchange, a project of CSPCS, Growth Philanthropy Network, and the Fuqua School's Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, is beginning to receive some attention in the press and in the blogs.
Imagination is a powerful force. The human capacity to look at a problem, and imagine a way to solve it, lies at the heart of the progress and innovation for which our nation is so justly proud.
At the moment our country, and the Midwest in particular, face a host of challenges, many of which are rooted in the most serious economic downturn since World War II. One might ask, how can we hope to make progress on public policy issues when the financial deck seems stacked against us?
My fourth scenario focused on a long-overdue renewal. There is nothing like a crisis to focus attention on needed improvement. Mergers and acquisitions can be a sign of desperation or a way to strengthen performance, while downsizing can be a last gasp or a first step toward higher productivity.
My third scenario centered on a winnowing of the sector. At one point last fall, I predicted that as many as 100,000 mostly smaller nonprofits would disappear during the recession. This number was based on a simple extrapolation of small-business failure rates during the past two recessions. During the relatively mild 2001-2003 economic downturn, for example, roughly 10 percent of small businesses failed. Although the failures were almost entirely offset by the creation of new small businesses that were created by unemployed workers, there is little reason to believe that the nonprofit sect
My second scenario focused on a steady withering of the sector’s general capacity to meet its mission. Virtually every data point from the sector shows this scenario is coming true. It is not clear just how many nonprofit employees are now out of work, but surely the sector accounts for some percentage of the nation’s 9.7 percent unemployment rate. With revenues in steep decline, the probability for continued withering is 100 percent.
The deepest economic recession of the century may be technically over, at least according to Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke, but the jobless recovery it has produced continues take its toll on the nonprofit sector. The good news is that there appears to be less damage thus far than anticipated. There is still plenty of anxiety about balance sheets, a double-dip recession, and inflation, but the anecdotes suggest that most nonprofits are still holding on despite the odds.
Using Joel Fleishman's book The Foundation: A Great American Secret as his jumping-off point, Mario Morino of Venture Philanthropy Partners writes provocatively about how foundations and nonprofits face a new imperative to become more transparent.
Raj Patel, Eric Holt-Gimenez, and Annie Shattuck examine the Gates Foundation's effort to end hunger in Africa in the latest issues of the Nation.
Welcome to the new website of the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society.
And welcome, too, to our new blog, the Intrepid Philanthropist.