Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

February 14, 2011

Creating community by learning to serve

By Todd Cohen

Giving, serving and connecting are what create and build healthy communities.

Nonprofits and givers can begin the seemingly overwhelming job of healing and repairing our broken communities by striving to build their own capacity to learn, serve, manage and lead.

To best advance their larger mission of serving and building community, nonprofits first must build into their own organizations the culture of service and community they champion.

That means making it a priority to invest the time, thinking and resources needed to become self-sustaining communities within their own organizations, truly engaging staff, board, volunteers, givers, partners and constituents in the shared job of learning and practicing basic competencies of management, leadership, service, communication and engagement.

Fighting just to survive in the economic crisis, nonprofits must move beyond their identity as society’s alms-house, an overworked, underpaid and neglected step-child whose good works and service role are essential but rarely recognized, understood or valued.
Nonprofits need to own, promote and demonstrate the social and economic role that service, giving and working together can play in building and growing community.

They can begin to do that by learning and practicing service, giving and collaboration in their own operations, engaging every member of their individual organization’s “family” in the job of making their organizations best serve their communities.

To show their value, promote their social mission, and secure the investment they need, nonprofits should make it a strategic priority to build their own capacity and leadership, creating organizations, partnerships and stories that engage employees, volunteers, givers, partners and clients.

Big change starts with the small change of changing how we work, learn, lead, serve and communicate.

A special web briefing

Please join me on Feb. 15 at 1 p.m. Eastern time for a special briefing for Philanthropy Journal members that will look at the impact the troubled economy has had on nonprofits, and strategies they can use to improve their performance and impact.

Joining me for the briefing will be Kevin Trapani, president and CEO of The Redwoods Group, a North Carolina-based insurance provider for YMCAs, Jewish community centers and nonprofit resident camps throughout the U.S. A key focus of Kevin’s company has been to help its nonprofit clients adopt best practices and strengthen their performance and operating culture.

In the web briefing, I will talk briefly about the impact the troubled economy has had on nonprofits, and then Kevin will talk about ways nonprofits can improve their performance and impact.

PJ members then will have the opportunity to ask questions.

If you are not one already, I hope you will become a PJ member, and take advantage of this special web briefing and other membership benefits.

The Philanthropy Journal, a program of the Institute for Nonprofits at North Carolina State University, delivers our news and resource information for free.

PJ does not receive government funding, and we depend on advertising revenue and donations.

So your membership is important to help us continue to provide the news and information nonprofits count on.

To become a PJ member, click here.

I hope you will join Kevin and me on Feb. 15 at 1 p.m. Eastern time for the web briefing for PJ members.


  • At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Al Huntoon said…

    Times ARE tough. Increasingly nonprofits are caught between the rock of growing demand and the hard place of decreasing donations. But while the economic downturn has made it harder for organizations to raise funds, it’s just exacerbating a problem that has been growing for the past decade – declining public confidence in the nonprofit sector.

    This crisis of confidence just can’t be addressed with more vigorous fundraising. Nonprofits that are accountable and demonstrate performance in terms of operational efficiency and mission effectiveness improve the perception that they are using donations wisely and gain increases in public trust and support.

  • At 10:58 PM, Anonymous said…

    Similar experiments and efforts can be successfuly carried out also within the artistic field (fortunately...)


Post a Comment

<< Home