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.