What makes nonprofits special?

Joe and his Little Brother Ja’shaun at the Pumpkin Festival in Hartsburg, MO.

For anyone who has ever worked or volunteered with a nonprofit, you already know what makes them so special. When I (Joe) was working for Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Missouri, every hour of data entry and reference calling was always made worth it each time I met with one of my Little Brothers or matched a new Big Brother or Sister with their Little Brother or Sister. “Seeing the look on the kids’ faces” has become such a cliche, but those are the images that stick with you when you’re stuffing and attaching labels to the thousandth envelope of the day. They remind you why your organization is so special.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies’ Listening Post Project recently surveyed more than 750 nonprofits or various sizes and fields. They asked the nonprofits  to describe what makes their organization special. The report identified the seven most common values listed: 

  • Productive 
  • Effective
  • Enriching
  • Empowering
  • Responsive
  • Reliable
  • Caring 

An article about the report ties it to recent news about the fiscal cliff, writing:

This is a crucial time for nonprofits around the country. As the federal government moves to avoid the fiscal cliff, proposals to reduce or cap the federal tax deduction for charitable contributions have become an increasingly common feature of budget-balancing measures from both ends of the political spectrum. And on the state and local levels, governments are imposing new taxes and fees on nonprofits in order to make ends meet.

What one word would you use to describe what makes nonprofits special? Leave a comment below!

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