June 17, 2009

Ranting on Nonprofit Media Coverage

Filed under: Nonprofit, Technology — Tags: , , , , — kgilnack @ 2:31 am

Before I could recap some of the great lessons that we could learn from the innovation that nonprofits are doing in Elkhart, Ind. there were a few things I had to rant about in article, and coverage in general when it comes to our sector.  I share these rants with you and am very interested in your take on them…


Nonprofits learn to stretch a buck?  We are the sector that has been caring for vulnerable members of our community, educating our children, instilling our values, creating positive change, and otherwise strenthing our communities – always on a shoestring.

The shoestring has gotten shorter and feels like it might be a lot closer to tearing now, but our history is built on stretching a buck.  So, MSNBC, please don’t overlook that history or perpetuate the misconception that we don’t already know how to spend wisely or do more with less.



Throughout the history of mankind societies have recognized the need for organizations that serve a public good and play a role that neither government nor business can (check out pg. 8 of this Introduction to the Law
of Tax-Exempt Healthcare Organizations
for a great history of nonprofits in the United States) . According to that chapter the American nonprofit sector goes back to the colonies starting with religious institutions.  This third of our economy has been along as our country has.

While it might be the smallest third, the sector employs 11% of America’s workforce and contributes $322 billion in payroll wages.  Interconnected with government and business, the third sector isn’t just vital to our communities for the public benefit they provide, it’s vital to our economy.  For some local flavor, see on how nonprofit human service providers contribute to the Massachusetts economy.

I shouldn’t be surprised or excited to see major news networks covering the sector – I should be used to it.  Much of the public’s lack of understanding for nonprofits stems from the fact that in between new, business, style, and other sections of the media, there is a lack of attention to this economic engine.

So, MSNBC, kudos on this piece, it’s full of interesting information. But, let’s step it up a bit.  I guarantee we’ll have newsworthy industry information tomorrow and the day after that as well if you’re interested.


Do you feel like you learn enough about the nonprofit sector from major media?  How is your organization’s relationship with the media?

Also, for any Massachusetts-based nonprofits, it would be a disservice to you and me if I didn’t shamelessly plug our Two Penny Project, which can help you develop strategies for delivering your message to the media and elected officials.  Download the Two Penny Maual for some great tips on framing if you’re interested.

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