Sometimes this blog can do nothing more than report the devotion to service demonstrated by social service agencies and nonprofits across the country. Four nonprofits reached far outside their comfort zone to help mitigate the devastating effects of COVID-19. Here are their stories.
“2020 has been a year of societal upheaval so massive it is like a rent in the Universe...and a tipping point has been reached.” (NPQ, Spring, 2020)
Nonprofit Role More Vital Than Ever
In this unprecedented environment the vulnerable population designation that is nonprofit’s primary area of concern is spreading wider and deeper across American society.
The COVID economic downturn has nonprofit management shifting into emergency mode. “Putting on the brakes” would be an understatement. Nonprofit sustainability, or the ability to continue delivering relevant social impact over the long term, has always been important to nonprofit leaders. But as the spread of COVID-19 causes upheaval in just about every aspect of society and highlights the deep social inequities many nonprofits are working to address sustainability is becoming even more of a top priority.
Some people say that the devil is in the details, but some say details can be a devil to deal with! According to Heather Lytle, Executive Director of F.A.C.T. (Family Advocacy and Community Training), an agency that mentors and empowers families to improve the quality of life and opportunities for children and adults with disabilities, “FAMCare was our first choice for case management because they understand that a small, family organization of 40 employees needs a software that focuses on the details without being too clinical.” F.A.C.T. has been a FAMCare client since 2014 and chose them over several other products because of their ability to modify the software to fit F.A.C.T.’s needs, as well as the constant technical support that FAMCare offers its clients.
The nonprofit universe is vast and varied. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the U.S. This number includes public charities, private foundations and a wide array of other nonprofit organizations like civic leagues, fraternal organizations and even local chambers of commerce. Because we work every day with a variety of nonprofits all across the country, it is important for us at Global Vision Technologies to have a clear picture of the nonprofit universe in order to gain insight into the challenges nonprofits face. Here is the nonprofit big picture.
My research analyst asked me a simple question the other day that led to some amazing revelations about the nonprofit world, “What is the largest nonprofit in the world?”
Increasingly, nonprofits face growing competition from their for-profit counterparts. These for-profit companies can often deliver services at a lower cost or offer higher financial returns to cities, thanks to their capacity and ability to raise investment capital as business entities. This leaves the non-profit social infrastructure in communities at a competitive disadvantage and requires a more thoughtful approach to determining the value of contract bids beyond simply financial criteria.
A Cultural Collapse
A comprehensive study of newspapers in the United States found that 516 rural newspapers closed or merged from 2004 to 2018. In metropolitan areas, 1,294 newspapers were shuttered during the period, making a national total of 1,810 papers that ceased publication.
One of our nonprofit clients recently found themselves on the horns of this dilemma:
A long-term faithful donor had been indicted for bank fraud. Should the nonprofit return his most recent donation, and should they take his name off the scholarship he had been funding to educate young girls from Malawi out of the circle of poverty?
The Military Model
Most industrial corporations are organized on the military model that emerged after World War II. This “top-down”, “pyramid”, “span-of-control” model of authoritarian decision making was thought to be the most efficient, effective, and disciplined form for complex, sprawling organizations. It was all about the rank and file executing the will of the top decision makers and not roaming “off the reservation” with ideas of their own. It was a model of discipline and efficiency designed for execution.