Philanthropy Journal – Helping people – Money and change

By Todd Cohen

Toiling in the nonprofit world can be hard work, and it’s easy to get bogged down in light bills, payroll and budgets.

But it’s also critical from time to time to break out of the daily grind and think about the big forces shaping our daily jobs.

And those forces are working overtime these days, presenting organized philanthropy with critical challenges.

So to survive and thrive, people working in organized philanthropy must cope with and master a range of issues and skills.

Those challenges were spelled out this week by Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and a key observer who tracks nonprofit trends.

The biggest issue facing philanthropy is the economic slump that is hurting fundraising and forcing nonprofits to find innovative ways to support their operations, Palmer told the North Carolina-based Triangle chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Money and change, in fact, are at the root of the big trends that Palmer identified.

Technology is transforming how nonprofits raise money, operate and build relationships – critical tasks that also are being shaped by the evolving ties between government and charity.

At the same time, nonprofits are expected to be more accountable, donors want more control, nonprofits face competition from commercial firms for donor dollars, funders are focusing more on strengthening civic ties and global forces are forcing us to rethink how we operate.

All that change is taking place, Palmer said, as philanthropy becomes more professional, challenging nonprofits to find new ways “to attract the best and brightest and keep them in philanthropy.”

She’s on the money: Philanthropy is people helping people, and in today’s complex and stressed world, the job of helping people is tougher than ever.

The payoff, of course, is the chance to make our communities better places to live and work. But fulfilling that dream requires first that the people who shoulder the hard work of charity get the resources they need to keep them learning, growing and working productively.

That’s a job – helping the people whose job is to help people — that requires the thinking and support of everyone in philanthropy.

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