Jan 22, 2019

Why Non-Profits Matter More Today Than Ever Before


We live in turbulent times. I don’t believe there has ever been a moment in North American history where our world seems so fragile and uncertain. Three significant shifts are among the most responsible for this moment in time, and they include:

  1. the pace of change and innovation,

  2. a divided geopolitical environment both nationally and globally, and

  3. acute generational shifts.

Together, these changes have literally altered the landscape of our day to day life, from transportation to retail to entertainment to politics. And, they produce so much anxiety and dissonance in our culture. We are so connected as a people and yet are so divided as a culture. We live in unusual times and are traveling in unchartered territory.

I remain hopeful, though, about our future. I look to the role of the non-profit organization in these times as a beacon of light to provide a path to our direction. I have been drawn to the work of non-profits my entire life, largely due to the durability of their missions and for their potential for human and cultural transformation. Whether it be a school, college, university, association, church, health cause, or human rights advocacy group, all non-profits share in the common the durability of their mission and their potential for transformation in this rapidly changing world..

The late Peter Drucker reminded us often before he passed away about the importance of our work. He always had the right words to tell us how important our work was in the context of our changing world.

“The 21st century will be the century of the social sector organization. The more economy, money, and information become global, the more community will matter. And only the social sector nonprofit organization performs in the community, exploits its opportunities, mobilizes its local resources, solves its problems. The leadership, competence, and management of the social sector nonprofit organization will thus largely determine the values, the vision, the cohesion, and the performance of the 21st century society.”
— Peter Drucker

Drucker was right. We have to remember the importance of our work. At a time when it seems that our world is fragile, uncertain, and divisive, we have to remember the human condition never changes. People have needs, and collectively they build communities that are interdependent and rely on each other to meet those needs. We have to keep in mind that our work remains of critical importance, regardless of the pace of change or the political landscape.

We are all connected. We all desire to live in communities that thrive. We all want a better world for our children. What we do in the non-profit social sector world matters greatly. MLK Jr. reminded us that life’s most pressing and urgent question is “what are you doing for others?” I remain highly confident that the nonprofit social sector organization has been – and continues to be – preoccupied with this question. I remain hopeful for a better future. And, I believe that our collective work has the power to transform the world.

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