Non-Profit Pressure

August 13, 2001

Host: Most non-profit organizations are facing an onslaught of
change. Funders want more for less, private firms are
competing on traditionally non-profit terrain. Under President
George W. Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative, churches,
synagogues, and mosques, may soon compete for the
Federal money which has long sustained non-profit social
services. Commentator Paul Light, who studies non-profits at
the Brookings Institution in Washington, says, “All this has
brought an identity crisis to many non-profits groups.”

Paul Light: The widespread wisdom today is that non-profits groups must be
run more like businesses to survive. “Being run like a non-profit,” has somehow
come to mean overwrought, underfunded, but always studiously tax exempt. The
real question facing non-profits is whether being more like businesses will make
them less like non-profits. non-profit groups hardly need to become more
innovative, for example. They’ve been the source of most policy innovation since
America’s founding. Their ideas inform and prod the government on matters such
as health care, welfare reform, housing, community development, and job
training. In fact, some of my favorite non-profits, such as the Consumer’s Union,
which publishes Consumer Reports, and the Walker Art Institute in Minneapolis,
and the Alliance For non-profit Management in Washington, DC, can out
innovate almost any private firm…

listen to the entire piece (Real Audio 3:00)