Friday, May 15, 2009

Nonprofits learning to help themselves

This is Geeta Pradhan, Director of Programs at The Boston Foundation, making a presentation yesterday on the fiscal fitness of and the challenges facing nonprofits in Massachusetts. She summarized a report on this topic -- Passion & Purpose: Raising the Fiscal Fitness Bar for Massachusetts Nonprofits -- produced by the foundation a few months ago.

Yesterday's session built on this report to discuss the topics of restructuring, repositioning, and reinventing the Massachusetts nonprofit sector. TBF President and CEO Paul Grogan reminded a full room that the current economic conditions can be an opportunity to "utilize the utility of trouble." I was honored to serve as a member of a panel to offer perspectives on these matters. Here were the other panelists: Alex Cortez, Manager, The Bridgespan Group; Hubie Jones, Founder and President, The Boston Children’s Chorus; Patrice Keegan, Executive Director, Boston Cares; and Michael Weekes, President and CEO, Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers.

If there was one dominant theme, it was that nonprofits need to do a better job in rigorously identifying how effective they actually are in delivering the services they were created to provide. Absent that kind of accountability, they will fail to generate sufficient support from a wide constituency.

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