A case study of collaboration, network weaving, social capital and the power of a partnership culture
Before network weaving and social capital became the buzz words, the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor was quietly inventing collaboration and community building on a bi-state scale in their small corner of New England.
joined a group of colleagues last night to talk more about Passion & Purpose, Passion and Purpose Report the recent report from The Boston Foundation.
A number of questions emerged that are worth a conversation among our colleagues and with our funders. I’d like to share those with you:
I have a very hard time reducing the performing arts, historical societies, art museums, conservation, environmental education, youth development, international development, philanthropy, peace and justice, women’s rights, and civil rights, to name a few, to the descriptor “Safety Net.” To me, this characterization grossly diminishes the societal benefit that these types of organizations provide.
In my book, any nonprofit that has lasted for 20 to 150 years and continues to achieve important societal outcomes, while nimbly executing on a measly budget (by report standards) of a cool $1-5 million without accumulating debt, is doing pretty well and shouldn’t feel that it hasn’t worked out a viable financial model.
Research from the Bridgestar group raises a question about the prevailing belief that successful nonprofits diversify their revenue bases.
“Since 1970, more than 200,000 nonprofits have opened in the U.S., but only 144 of them have reached $50 million in annual revenue. Most of the members of this elite group got big by doing two things. They raised the bulk of their money from a single type of funder such as corporations or government, and not, as conventional wisdom would recommend, by going after diverse sources of funding. Just as importantly, these nonprofits created professional organizations that were tailored to the needs of their primary funding sources.”