Nonprofits and Democracy

Nonprofits and Democracy [Digital Issue]
Nonprofits and Democracy [Digital Issue]
Item# Fall2012D

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Nonprofits and Democracy: Volume 19, Issue 3: Fall 2012

Table of Contents:


3 Welcome

4 Use It or Lose It: Frittering Away Civil Society’s Strategic Advantage: All the cool kids understand that real reciprocal engagement with constituents is the way you build adherents, and that adherents equate to power, influence, and sustaining cash. And this requires that many of us re-fit ourselves in the old spirit of the civil sector—but with new tools. Nonprofits are in an unusually strategic position relative to the direction of the new economy. Are we prepared to take advantage of it? by Ruth McCambridge

12 Serving Democracy: Nonprofits Promote Voter Engagementin 2012: How do we reach the populations less likely to vote (lower-income; youth under thirty; Latino; recent immigrant populations)? The author asserts that, given their civic reach, nonprofits are a natural for closing these participation gaps. Is your organization up to the challenge? by George Pillsbury, MPA

20 Civil Society, Chinese Style: The Rise of the Nonprofit Sector in Post-Mao China: Loosening restrictions are creating an exciting environment for China’s emerging nonprofit sector, but the pathways to official recognition are still arduous and millions of organizations remain unregistered—and thus illegal. This fascinating article is a complex and dramatic snapshot of the organizations of civil society in today’s China. by Chao Guo, PhD, Jun Xu, PhD, David Horton Smith, PhD, and Zhibin Zhang, PhD

28 Protecting Endangered Nonpartisan Space: As the political environment grows ever more polarized, how are nonprofits that venture into the public-policy arena to avoid charges of partisanship? by Marcia Avner and Laura Wang


32 Dr. Conflict: Is your board bored? Perhaps surprisingly, Dr. Conflict points to ennui as one of the top reasons why board members behave badly. by Mark Light, MBA, PhD

34 Wagging the Dog: Philanthropy’s Influence on Nonprofit Management: Kate Barr, Paul Connolly, Deborah Linnell, Jan Masaoka, and Bill Ryan weigh in on the good, the bad, and the ugly in philanthropy-driven nonprofit management. by the editors

38 Creating Fertile Soil for the Merger Option Mergers are a complicated business—no doubt about it—and the call over the years for more mergers among nonprofits has been largely ignored. But can nonprofits continue to afford to put their collective head in the sand? by Judith E. Alnes

40 Illuminating the Invisible: Mapping Austin’s Adolescent Health System Using Value Network Analysis When an initiative forms to improve the lives of adolescents in Austin, Texas, value network analysis (VNA) is adopted to help the group map the city’s adolescent health system. by Maya Townsend, MSOD

47 Nonprofit Accountability and Ethics: Rotting from the Head Down According to this article, nonprofits suffer from any number of unethical behaviors, and while nonprofits are accountable to such entities as state attorneys general and the IRS, it is our constituents to whom we should feel most obligated. And now, says the author, “more and more often, perhaps aided by social media, stakeholders are realizing that they can protest unaccountability. Are you and your organizations prepared for the integrity needed to survive?” by Woods Bowman

51 The Importance of Linking Leadership Succession, Strategy, and Governance This article, adapted from a Center for Applied Research report, offers three case studies that demonstrate how, whether one’s starting point is a leadership transition, board development, or strategy, two cannot be left in the background when focusing on the third. It is “imperative that [these issues] be thought of in a woven, recursive way across time rather than a simplistic, linear sequence.” by Thomas Gilmore