Independent Sector: Threads


Independent Sector and its convening partners are holding critical community conversations (“Threads”) about the key trends, obstacles, and opportunities that will affect every organization and individual working toward the common good over the next 20 years. A Threads conversation was held in Silicon Valley on Monday and another will be held in Oakland (where I’ll be among the attendees) on Wednesday. I’ll be back in Washington DC on Friday for an Independent Sector Public Policy Committee meeting where I look forward to learning more about the common and distinct threads among the various regions.

Background Resource – Basis for Discussions:

Earlier this year, Independent Sector published Nine Key Trends Shaping the Future of the Charitable Sector. These trends are divided as follows:

Three Assumptions About National and Global-Level Forces
1. Disruption from inequality and environmental degradation
2. Greater ethnic diversity and new generations of leadership
3. Technology transforming learning, gathering, and associations
Three Assumptions About the Context for Pursuing Social Impact
4. Swarms of individuals connecting with institutions
5. Business becoming increasingly engaged in social and environmental issues
6. New models for social welfare and social change
Three Critical Uncertainties About Government
7, Will there be a resurgence of the public’s voice in policymaking?
8. Will the primary focus for policy development be at the local or national level?
9. How will government balance competing priorities and revenue pressures?

Favorite Tweets from Oakland:

  • One reason the #nonprofit sector is not solving big problems: we’re not keeping pace with the changing world. – Diana Aviv
  • Are we in the #nonprofit sector prepared and positioned to succeed in a world that is changing at such a fast pace? – Aviv
  • “We are the crazy ones” says Aviv “who think we can change the world.” Actually we aren’t crazy enough. – Jan Masaoka
  • “Running a nonprofit is like driving across the country and buying gas one gallon at a time.”
  • Another trend: Increasing demand for proof of impact & the challenge it poses to major social changes that take time.
  • Societal challenges: short-term thinking, income inequality, changing forms of communication, power inequality.
  • Why is ok to bemoan income inequality but not call out corporate control of public policy (such as taxes) as the reason? – Masaoka
  • James Head (East Bay Community Foundation) calling on the nonprofit sector to hold philanthropy more accountable and responsive.

Favorite Tweets from Silicon Valley:

  • Lucy Bernholz received applause questioning the premise that technology democratizes power rather than concentrating it.
  • Why do foundations always tell us we need to respond to demographic changes but won’t fund communities of color?
  • Nonprofits need a voice at policy table and be recognized as the service providers on the ground. More nonprofit vets in office!

Favorite Tweets from Earlier Threads:

  • Societal issue challenges: no confidence in institutions, widening inequality, political gridlock, focus on results not change…
  • NP sector in “defensive crouch”, needs to stand up and advocate for what we know works on the front lines.
  • Experience may be the enemy of our sector. We need to be adaptable to keep up.
  • Sector-wide ego holds us back from systems changes. It’s hard to accept solutions may come from outside the room.
  • Sea of information is overwhelming, therefore people are moving into self-imposed like minded clusters – a new form of tribalism
  • Ppl limit info they receive from opp viewpoints, this disconnects us. Fdns exacerbate this w/specialized funding
  • 43% of new workers are people of color. 80% of nonprofit workers are white. That’s a problem.
  • Right on – hiring and affording the best talent, esp in light of student debt is a major issue for nonprofits
  • “Young people don’t have a good on ramp into #nonprofit sector. Not enough training or PD to keep them.” Yes!! @ynpnla agrees
  • “Trust, turf, cash and credit” are noted challenges holding back collaboration in the nonprofit sector
  • Shift to “new power” – open, participatory, engagement – seems dominant theme so far #threadsla #nonprofit
  • Challenging us to move beyond “bold critiques and safe solutions.”