Nonprofit Survival of the Fittest: Crisis Management and the New Normal

Alice M. Rivlin
Alice Rivlin
Alice M. Rivlin Former Brookings Expert

July 20, 2010

On July 20, 2010 at the World Bank, Alice Rivlin spoke to nonprofit leaders in the Washington, D.C. area about national and regional economic trends, and how such constraints will continue to affect various organizations and their work.


“Survival of the fittest” doesn’t have a real cheerful ring to it.  I think everyone in this room knows that times are tough and are likely to stay that way for quite a while. My job is to try to give you some educated guesses about how economic developments might unfold, both at the national level and here in the Washington region, and how those developments might affect the non-profits that you are trying so hard to lead effectively.

Gathered in this room are some of the people I admire most—people dedicated to making this corner of the world a better place to live and work; people who work extremely hard and don’t get nearly as much credit as they should for it, people have seen their less empathetic former classmates making gazillions of dollars trading derivatives and wondered why the world is organized this way—but not wished they had chosen a different career path.

I wish I could bring you major good news on the economic front—something to stand up and cheer about–but at the moment the best I can say is that I expect the national economy to improve over the next couple of years (and Washington’s with it), but quite slowly, especially with respect to jobs and unemployment. So your jobs are going to continue to be very hard.