Civic activism needed

By Todd Cohen

America needs nonprofit leaders willing to mobilize the nonprofit sector for social change.

But trade groups that represent nonprofits shun the grassroots organizing needed to engage nonprofits and their clients, donors and volunteers in civic activism.

With one million nonprofits, the sector could be a powerful social force.

Trade groups should be leveraging nonprofits’ service role and constituents, and building state and national coalitions to fight for social progress.

But, hooked on funding from foundations and corporations, trade groups cater to their funders’ agendas and focus on nonprofit technical support.

Effective nonprofit management is critical, but trade groups must do more.

At the Nonprofit Congress it helped organize, the National Council of Nonprofit Associations asked delegates to push for social change at the state level.

That is important: Statewide nonprofit associations are reluctant to speak out on social issues, focusing their advocacy on nonprofit regulatory issues.

Existing to fix social problems, grassroots nonprofits know their constituents, and the problems they face.

State and national trade groups alike should make it their business to take informed positions on how to solve those problems, and fight to fix them.

Change requires nonprofit leaders willing to change themselves to make change happen.


Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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