Nonprofits rally sector to serve

Leaders representing tens of thousands of nonprofits are calling for the sector, in partnership with government, business and the faith community, to revitalize the “citizen sector” during the economic crisis.

In a declaration called “Forward Together: Empowering America’s Citizen Sector for the Change We Need,” nonprofit leaders make short- and long-term recommendations for strengthening the sector so it can aid in the economic recovery.

While the nonprofit sector is robust and employs about 11 million workers, it needs help in order to fulfill its potential during the recession, the declaration says.

“The citizen sector is a powerful engine for change with enormous potentials to assist in coping with our nation’s problems,” Lester Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, says in a statement. “But the country is not taking anywhere close to full advantage of these potentials.”

The declaration’s short-term recommendations include using the network of U.S. nonprofits to funnel aid to families in need; making “build-ready” nonprofit facilities eligible for stimulus funds; and using nonprofits in the affordable-housing, community-development arenas to help rework problem mortgages.

For the long-term, the document encourages improved government-nonprofit partnerships; investment in the sector’s capacity to innovate and perform; and support of alternate models of nonprofit finance.

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