Independent Sector Kicks Off Unprecedented Initiative to Strengthen the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Community
Washington, D.C., July 28, 2009 — Today Independent Sector kicked off an innovative, collaborative initiative focused on strengthening the future of America’s 1.4 million charitable organizations. Drawing on people with wide-ranging nonprofit expertise, this effort is designed to empower individual organizations and the charitable sector as a whole to make a greater impact on lives and communities.
Over the next six months, the Envisioning Our Future initiative will bring thousands of people together in a national conversation to analyze the challenges and possibilities that will shape the ability of nonprofits and foundations to improve lives for years to come. An extensive series of in-person meetings and online conversations will invite nonprofit and foundation staff and stakeholders to contribute their insights to develop high-impact strategies that advance the common good.
“Envisioning Our Future is a bold, inclusive, creative way to help our community better understand the trends that will profoundly affect us and, more important, the missions we serve,” said Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “This process will identify innovative ways for nonprofits and foundations to create a better future for all.”
The initiative stands out in three ways. First, it takes an integrated approach to considering the complexity of our changing environment. It will carefully analyze the trends and interconnectedness of developments within the nonprofit sector, such as organizational sustainability, as well as a broad range of societal trends, such as economic change, demographic shifts, evolving views of government, and technological developments.
Second, it will employ an iterative process for problem solving, using a number of highly participatory activities that encourage interaction among those with different perspectives. Its creative methods will be facilitated for Independent Sector by an innovative Italian firm (also with offices in New York) whose members have already produced exceptional results at Fiat and the World Economic Forum at Davos.
Third, the initiative will encourage participation from people associated with organizations of all sizes, mission areas, and locations, as well as from thought leaders throughout society. This approach enables participants to work across fields, rather than focusing on their standard networks.
Kicking off Envisioning Our Future will be this week’s StrategyLab. Held in Colorado, it will bring together approximately 75 accomplished people connected to the charitable community. This group was carefully constructed to create a dynamic mix of participants of varying ages, from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, different fields, geographic areas, types of organizations, and political perspectives.
Starting in September will be extensive and accessible online conversations designed to include all nonprofit staffers and stakeholders. Content from these discussions will then be fed into a series of FutureLabs at the IS Annual Conference, to be held in Detroit November 4-6 in partnership with the Council of Michigan Foundations. FutureLabs will focus on specific issues, such as technology and communications, demographic shifts, or new sustainability models for the sector, and use interactive techniques to draw on the knowledge and experience of conference attendees.
In early 2010, the insights from this initiative will be broadly distributed among the nonprofit community. Ultimately the initiative is designed to offer findings that the staff and board of any organization can use to evaluate how its work can be improved in the future by recognizing the insights and strategies identified through this process.
“The economic struggles of the American people and of many charitable organizations makes this an exceptional time to hold these conversations,” noted Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and co-chair of Envisioning Our Future. “Moments of crisis are when it is vital to think strategically about how to maximize the positive impact that the nonprofit sector can have despite financial challenges,” added Marguerite Kondracke, president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance and the initiative’s other co-chair.
To receive updates about Independent Sector’s Envisioning Our Future initiative, email email@example.com.
Independent Sector is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of charities, foundations, and corporate philanthropy programs, collectively representing tens of thousands of charitable groups in every state across the nation. Its mission is to advance the common good by leading, strengthening, and mobilizing the nonprofit community.