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Approaches to discussing history of nonprofit sectors

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There are a couple of approaches to discussing the history of the nonprofit sector in the United States, one is to discuss from a tax perspective and this is relevant as nonprofit’s are tax-exempt entities.  The IRS produced a history of nonprofit’s through its statistics of income group.  Believe it or not this 31 page document is well-written and not in tax-speak so it is easy to understand.  Read through as much as you can, if not all of it.  Although there are very few nonprofit marketing texts out there, the ones that do exist would have used material from this source, especially for the accuracy of content here.  IRS Nonprofit History  If after reading this you are craving more history of philanthropy I highly recommend  Philanthropy in America Oliver Zunz  basically how a change in the tax code in 1913 was a catalyst for the expansion of philanthropy.

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Another approach to looking at the history of nonprofit’s in the U.S. is through the lens of the Industrial Revolution and the information contained in this paper from Indiana University Graduate School is an excellent overview of how the two are connected,  Industrial Revolution Nonprofit Sector .  Speaking of Indiana University their Center for Nonprofit Studies is one of the preeminent programs in the country for the study of all things philanthropic, we will be referring to information from this source throughout the semester  Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University .  You may also find this  Interactive Timeline  interesting to use as viewed in  dipity .

Now that you have read the history of nonprofit’s from the IRS perspective here is current information available to nonprofit’s from the U.S. Government,  USA Gov Nonprofit .  Why is this important for nonprofit marketing managers to understand, there are rules that affect the annual reports you will produce, there are of course tax incentives for individuals and corporations to support nonprofit’s and maybe most important there are funds to be had from the government for nonprofit’s.  And, as you will practice later this semester nonprofit marketing managers may also write grants, or at the very least support grant writers with content.

An important component that comes with time is the assessment and evaluation of nonprofit effectiveness the Center for Effective Philanthropy is one of those organizations that has evolved over time  Effective Philanthropy 2014   The Center for Effective Philanthropy pursues its mission through data collection and  research  that fuel the creation of  assessment tools publications , and  programming .  Similar to creating marketing strategy – there is identification of the need, create the strategy, set objectives implementation of the strategy, and evaluation of its effectiveness.

One of the oldest foundations in the U.S. the  David and Lucile Packard Foundation  has been awarding grants for over 45 years.  And this foundation addresses issues on a global scale, which has evolved over time, from giving locally, and nationally to foundations solving issues worldwide.  We can continue to predict the expansion of nonprofit solutions on a globally.

As the nonprofit sector has evolved from barons of industry making great philanthropic contributions to society, the need has arisen for organizations such as Charity Navigator to guide the rest of us on intelligent giving.   This video explains the genesis of this organization and the importance for organizations like it.  How Charity Navigator started – Video

Since we are discussing the history of nonprofits here, one of the best ways to learn lessons from past is to use case studies to learn from what has already happened.  I would like you to read the case study here about rather recent technology, and pervasive technology I might add.  Case Study Text Messaging

Relevant Vocabulary:

Charity – an organization that collects funds, goods, or other voluntary contributions, for those in need.

Nongovernmental organizations –  the commonly used term to describe nonprofit’s that work internationally.

Philanthropy –  a long-term rational investment in the infrastructure of society, such gifts made to construct university buildings, endow programs at those university’s or create new charitable foundations.

Private Foundation – include all tax-exempt organizations and some charitable trusts.

Social enterprise – either operated by a non-profit organization or by a for-profit company, a social enterprise has two goals: to achieve social, cultural, community economic or environmental outcomes; and, to earn revenue.


1. Please locate and share with us one nonprofit milestone from the Philanthropy Timeline.

2. You have probably watched the video on how Charity Navigator got started, and here is a follow-on article detailing its inception  Question Everything   Please go back and select one of the five nonprofit’s you listed in Topic 1 and provide us 3 statistics you find about your chosen nonprofit.  If you do not find your nonprofit here, explain based on Charity Navigator’s criteria why that may be.

3. Continuing with the same nonprofit you have chosen for Question #2 read the case on texting from Americans for Wildlife Preservation (AWP) to its target audiences.  Discuss your views on the pros and cons of this type of technological marketing.  And would texting from a nonprofit work for you – would you give more, donate more, be a better advocate for the cause?


Independent research on Topic 2:

This week our sites focus on ways that you can get involved with nonprofit’s. These are innovative ways that nonprofit marketers are reaching out to their target audiences, to find their target audiences and expand their target audiences.

Council on Foundations

A nonprofit that provides advice and information for the sustainability of nonprofit organizations.

Independent Sector

An organization that provides support to the nonprofit sector to advance the common good through nonpartisan philosophy, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Alliance for Nonprofit Management

An organization that facilitates capacity building for nonprofit’s.  Capacity building being an increase in knowledge, better management practices, and enabling the capabilities of the organization’s mission.

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