Hot Topics in Philanthropy Breakfast Series
LONGMEADOW, Mass.—Bringing together the Millennial Generation with the Baby Boomers, introducing technological advances, and developing partnerships between for-profits, nonprofits, and the government sector, were definitely among the “hot topics” of conversation as nearly 200 nonprofit sector professionals gathered last week for Bay Path College’s bi-annual Hot Topics in Philanthropy Breakfast. The first to bring La Piana’s Convergence Report to the region, Bay Path hosted the event, which featured La Piana Consulting Convergence Report Co-Author and Senior Associate Heather Gowdy, MBA, and a panel of regional nonprofit leaders including Suzanne Parker, executive director of Girls Inc. of Holyoke; Miki C. Akimoto, acting president of Associated Grant Makers in Boston; and Kate Miller of The Fund for Greater Hartford.
La Piana Consulting, a national firm dedicated to strengthening nonprofits and foundations, recently released the Convergence Report, which studied five trends reshaping the social sector and the need to bring those ideas together to advance nonprofits’ missions. “From generational and other demographic shifts to the rise and impact of social media, these key trends are driving the future of the nonprofit sector,” said Gowdy.
According to Gowdy, social media has also played a role in increasing civic engagement and volunteerism by bringing information to a greater community, which believes in the organization’s mission. Gowdy also provided nonprofit professionals examples of nonprofits partnering with corporations and government groups to reach a common goal, citing a California-based theater group that collaborated with an AIDS drugs manufacturer to produce a series of plays focused on AIDS education. “No man is an island, and the same can be said for a nonprofit organization,” said Gowdy. “In today’s world, sector boundaries are blending, and it is important for the nonprofit sector to become proactive, through collaboration and competition, to fulfill its mission.”
Gowdy encouraged the nonprofit professionals to become “futurists” by looking ahead a few years and adapt to the changes that will occur, and to build risk tolerance to enable experimentation with new tools and technology available. “Loss of control is a common fear for all nonprofit organizations, but the convergence of these trends, if used strategically, can have a much greater impact on your organization and clients.”
Following the presentation, Parker, Akimoto, and Miller stressed the importance of trend convergence during the panel discussion. All three described the need to collaborate with other organizations to accomplish the same goal in today’s economy as well as the impact social media has had on their organizations by connecting with younger demographics and providing instantaneous updates to supporters. However, they agreed social media should not be an organization’s only way of communications, due to a digital divide among clientele, where those receiving services may not have access to computers or cell phones.
A part of La Piana’s research initiative NonprofitNext, The Convergence Report was funded by the James Irvine Foundation. To view the report in its entirety, visit the La Piana Consulting Web site at http://www.lapiana.org/downloads/Convergence_Report_2009.pdf.
Following the presentation and panel discussion, attendees were invited to the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network informational forum. The event was co-sponsored by the Graduate School at Bay Path College, BusinessWest and the Human Service Forum.
For more information about La Piana Consulting, visit http://www.lapiana.org