The charitable marketplace is strong because its diversity produces needed and innovative solutions to social problems.
But to be more effective, nonprofits need to work harder to strengthen their individual organizations and to find ways to work together.
Healing, repairing and enriching our communities require a broad range of approaches to address immediate problems and to fix flawed public policies at the root of those problems.
Because of the competitive tension its diversity fosters, the charitable marketplace has generated innovative strategies in response to escalating social problems.
But fixing what is wrong in society requires that nonprofits do more than simply work in isolation to deliver urgently-needed services, competing with one another for the resources to support those services.
Nonprofits and foundations make up a diverse and sprawling sector within the charitable marketplace, and their strength flows both from their independence as individual organizations and the impact they can have by working together.
While they share common needs – for investment that is strategic, for volunteers and partners who are committed, for boards that are engaged, for foundations and corporate funders that are responsive – nonprofits speak with many voices.
Nonprofit Awareness Month is a rare opportunity for nonprofits to celebrate the diversity of the charitable marketplace while also looking for common ground on which they can work together to secure the resources and support they need.
Nonprofits also should combine their diverse voices to speak loudly and clearly to foundations, to government and to business about ways they, in turn, need to move beyond business as usual.
Foundations and businesses must understand and respond to nonprofits’ critical and ongoing need for operating support, and government must understand the unmatched power it has to shape public policy and invest the funds desperately needed to address urgent social problems.
In North Carolina, the theme of Nonprofit Awareness Month has been “Many Missions, One Voice.”
For as long as it takes, nonprofits should use their collective voice to speak up for the funding and policy change required to heal and repair our communities.
To find that voice, nonprofits need to summon the will and courage to stop fighting over turf and start truly working together.