The days of organizations standing on a mountaintop and broadcasting their messages for the world to consume are rapidly evaporating. No longer is control solely in nonprofits’ hands, no matter how much they wish it was. To truly succeed in raising funds and solving the world’s problems, nonprofits must work in concert with networks of social changemakers — passionate individuals and organizations, among others — to truly achieve their missions.
That’s why Beth Kanter, CEO of Zoetica and author of Beth’s Blog, and Allison Fine, senior fellow at Demos, wrote ”The Networked Nonprofit,” a book discussing the new fundraising landscape. In a webinar of the same name, Kanter and Fine discussed the motives behind the book and ways organizations can shift from old-fashioned fortresses to networked nonprofits.
What is a networked nonprofit?
Kanter and Fine define networked nonprofits as simple and transparent organizations that allow insiders to get out and outsiders to get in. They engage people to shape and share their work in order to raise awareness of social issues, organize communities to provide services or advocate for legislation. In the long run, they are helping to make the world a safer, fairer, healthier place to live.
“We looked out about a year ago at the ecosystem of nonprofits and foundations, and one of the things that we saw was individuals — we call them free agents in the book — who are great with social media working outside of the walls of organizations and making really great things happen,” Fine said. “The larger picture of what we were seeing is the nonprofit sector has exploded in the number of organizations over the past 20 years or so, but if you look at any specific needle measure of social change over that time, the needle hasn’t moved. One of the reasons … the needle hasn’t moved is that there’s been a growth of this focus of stand-alone institutions. [That] makes it impossible to scale social change because complex social problems outpace the capacity of any single organization or individual to solve. That’s what we were trying to change.”