Charity actually is big business. And it requires adaptation, innovation and indefensible passion for change to not just succeed but to stay successful. Also, charities can actually make profit. Lots of profit. In fact, "non-profit" may just be the greatest cultural misnomer in all of enterprise.
At the core of relevancy is the basic understanding that the audience for the brand really matters, not the other way around. In an age of supporter shift, nonprofits must figure out how to make their brand promise relevant to different generations that have varying needs and perspectives.
The barriers that prevent students from making social impact career choices are real: positions that do not effectively leverage the MBA skill set, careers that lack investment in professional development and growth potential, and pathways that require vows of poverty.
When I say "flight to quality," I'm talking about the observable trend of donors deciding to support fewer organizations, consolidating their giving with those that mean the most to them from a mission perspective, demonstrate sustainability and treat them well.
Outcomes! Data-driven! Performance management! These words are buzzing throughout the nonprofit sector. Funders want to fund them, nonprofits want to have them. How do you get your nonprofit to the point where data can demonstrate that you're effective?
If you cannot eat, you cannot learn. If you are homeless, you have no safe retreat for doing your homework. If cannot find affordable daycare for your children, you cannot fully focus on your training, work, or education.
Instead of talking about how to solve our most intractable social problems, or what we can do differently to solve them, the conversation simply circles around whether we should be spending more or less money. We need solutions and smarter investments to make a real difference.
As we've graduated into a global, knowledge based economy, human capital has become our most important resource. Unfortunately, the current education and workforce development systems serve only a small minority of Americans well.
The challenge ahead is to broaden our set of approaches to traditional work as well as talent and leadership development to make space for the wider variety of ways that this generation is working for change.
If you are one of the millions of people who want to do work that is mission driven, you may be interested in a job in the "social sector." As you start searching for jobs, you should make sure you are looking in the right places.
I am hopeful that over the remaining weeks of 2012 a compromise can be reached that advances the cause of national economic stability without inflicting needless pain on our nation's nonprofits and, most importantly, the people that depend on and benefit from our integrated services.
How can any candidate, for any office, in a time when our country must grow our economy, not mention our country's third biggest employer? Because, like many Americans, they think nonprofits don't create anything of value.
Who is responsible to ensure that nonprofits operate most efficiently? While the great majority of people in the nonprofit world are good people, this doesn't necessarily mean that the financial system is functioning most effectively.
The job of every nonprofit and foundation is to make difficult decisions based on vision, mission and values. If other entities share those perspectives, collaboration and perhaps some form of collective impact is possible and desirable.
The effective use of data is paramount in nonprofit operations and in the way they tell their story to you, the supporter. Have you heard a good story lately? Chances are, it had good data backing it up.