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Catalogue Blog

Roundtable Summit

By Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator

Yesterday morning, the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington celebrated its tenth anniversary with a touching look back and a pressing call to action for the future. As a young nonprofit professional, the messages I heard were both disheartening and inspiring. According to Mario Morino, Co-Founder and Chairman of Venture Philanthropy Partners, the nonprofit sector faces quite a few challenges in the years ahead. Even with potential economic upturns (which are by no means guaranteed yet), the changing economic and employment landscape in the US will have a profound effect on the demand for social sector services. Effectively funding those services will require a dramatic re-think of current funding mechanisms, and above all the willpower from funders, investors, government, and social service providers/nonprofits alike to meet the needs that our country, regions, and cities will face.

Benjamin Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, passionately spoke of the civil rights crisis facing America today — what he called the “most massive and simultaneous attack on rights happening in recent history.” Women, immigrants, and the LGBT and black communities are on the front lines of this battle — one primarily fought within state boundaries, not on the federal level. Such a multifaceted problem requires intense collaboration and coordination to solve it — and an acknowledgement of the political and systemic barriers that contribute to (and often cause) the larger problems nonprofits work to address.
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Getting Connected with the Catalogue

By Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator

Nonprofit collaboration is a hot-button term these days. With a network of over 300 of the best small nonprofits in greater Washington, Catalogue nonprofits are in great position to learn from and collaborate with each other.

This past Monday night, the Catalogue offered the first of many opportunities for Catalogue nonprofits to come together in a casual and informal setting at the Catalogue September Happy Hour. The happy hour event brought together nonprofit staff and other Catalogue supporters to meet each other, connect, network, and begin strengthening relationships among the community. Catalogue staff, including President Barbara Harman, was on hand to meet and greet the 80+ event attendees.

The new Catalogue happy hour series follows on the heels of Catalogue’s “From the Field” project, in which Catalogue staff Marie LeBlanc and Sherika Brooks spend time on the ground with at least two nonprofits a month. These two nonprofit outreach initiatives are a response to many nonprofits’ expressed desire to connect with other nonprofits in the network, as well as Catalogue staff. We’ve heard over and again that many nonprofits — especially the smaller ones — struggle with similar issues, and that great benefit can come from simply sharing these struggles (and successes) with others who can relate. The Catalogue is privileged to offer the opportunity for small nonprofit leaders to do just that — whether over a glass of wine or cup of coffee. We look forward to continuing this series of nonprofit networking events into next year!

Thank you to all who attended this week’s happy hour — we hope to see you at the next one! Have suggestions for future events for the Catalogue network? Miss out this time and want to hear about our next event? Leave us a comment and let us know.

A Unified Voice

From last week’s Chronicle of Philanthropy, “Nonprofits Need a Strong, Unified Voice to Lobby Government, Report Says:”

Nonprofits need a single organization to spearhead a national advocacy network to champion public policies that help charities and foundations, especially as Washington seems poised to consider an overhaul of the federal tax code, says a new report.

A two-year study involving more than 100 interviews with experts and studies of 500 advocacy efforts was released Wednesday by Independent Sector, a coalition of charities and foundations. [...]

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Companies for Causes

A few times, yesterday included, I touched on the application (or imposition?) of for-profit business models on non-profit organizations. Should non-profits take the lead from more traditional businesses or are the two models incompatible? In the future, I would like to delve further into this question. But for now, I’d like to raise a more specific one: can and do these two entities meet and talk about one another? In other words, do non-profits have a forum to discuss corporate partnerships and do corporations have one to discuss community outreach?

Enter Companies for Causes, whose aim is just that: bringing together medium-sized local businesses to brainstorm and launch philanthropic endeavours as well as entrepreneurial ones. Essentially, this effort will provide the network and resources for companies to expand their reach (and deepen their impact) in the Greater Washington community. Their first symposium is coming up next Wednesday, October 27. You can see the agenda here, sign up for more info, and check out these interviews:

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Moving (and Working) Together

From bright-red bikes to non-profit administrative operations, what are we ready and excited to share?

Regarding the new Capital Bikeshare program, the New York Times explains that Internet services, from Netflix to Pandora, have “changed the way Americans think about sharing and ownership. Collaborative habits online are beginning to find expression in the real world.”

Perhaps this ethic of collaboration spread from products and purchasing to operations and funding. Just last Friday, the Boston Globe reported that the Boston Foundation (along with three others) has unveiled “a new fund to help local charities … form partnerships, combine functions like bookkeeping or community services, or merge into new groups … to better serve their communities.”

Of course, the comparisons are not perfect. But speaking broadly, have cooperation and sharing become newly interesting? Haven’t they always been part of the picture?

Says the founder of NeighborGoods, an online resource where users can enter their zip code and locate neighbors willing to borrow or loan, “everyone thought we were completely crazy two years ago a desire for community, a desire to be more sustainable and, frankly, it’s the economy.”


Philanthropy 2173 asks an intriguing question: “if communities and businesses built on sharing — mutual aid — can really regain traction … what will this mean for organized, outside philanthropy as we know it?”

Will this trend last? Does it excite and inspire you? And are new models indeed on the horizon? Or have non-profits long employed this model and businesses are actually catching up? What do you think?