3 Paths That Could Shape The Future Of Nonprofits

For some nonprofit managers, the daily grind makes it difficult to see the forest between the trees for a single organization.

In his book “The Resilient Sector Revisited,” author and well-regarded academic Lester M. Salamon endeavors to take a 10,000-foot view of the nonprofit sector as a whole, including its current challenges and future prospects. In the book, Salamon envisions three potential futures for the sector.

* Nonprofits could coast along with the status quo while increasing reliance on commercial support. Given governments’ need for nonprofits in policy areas and managers’ increasing ability to balance tasks, the sector could be sustained under this method, but may see its market share, mission-critical functions and benefits such as tax exemption slip away.

* Ditching the traditional constructs of the nonprofit sector in favor of social enterprise or a “fourth sector.” By merging social purposes with business methods, such organizations would be able to tap into increased resources with socially focused private investment capital. This method is especially attractive to young activists and technology entrepreneurs.

* The sector could take the challenges organizations are currently facing as an opportunity to reevaluate how nonprofits function and relate to their communities, governments and businesses. Accompanying this method would be the need to improve access to investment capital, strengthen nonprofits’ relationship with government and better educate the public on nonprofits’ operations.