The ‘Impulsive’ Nonprofit Future

February 21, 2017       The NonProfit Times      
    In his book “The Resilient Sector Revisited,” Lester M. Salamon foresees four impulses shaping the future of nonprofit America. They are:

  • Voluntarism. This impulse carries much of the distinctive value claim of the sector, although in recent years it has come to be associated with a more stridently ideological conception of it.
  • Professionalism. For Salamon, this is the emphasis on specialized, subject-matter knowledge gained through formal training and delivered by paid experts. Professionalism has probably had as much impact on government as government has had on professionalism.
  • Civic activism. According to this perspective, the real source of social ills lies not in values or psychological or skill deficits of disadvantaged people but in the structures of social, economic and political power such individuals confront in the broader society and the unequal access to opportunities.
  • Commercialism/managerialism. This impulse presses a service role on the sector, but it emphasizes managerial efficiency, innovation and cost containment, all of which can run counter to professionalism’s emphasis on effectiveness.