On Wednesday, October 10th one of CEDC's closest partners, the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington had their tenth anniversary celebration. Held at the Kellogg Conference Center on the campus of Gallaudet University and attended by many of the best and brightest from the nonprofit sector in the DC region it was clearly evident the power and reach that this great organization has. It was a truly star studded event, with addresses from Mario Morino of the Venture Philanthropy Partners, Paul Lee of google.org, and Benjamin Todd Jealous of the NAACP, all providing particular insights for the nonprofit community through their unique experiences.
Julie Rodgers of the Meyer Foundation began the day with her remarks regarding the beginnings of the Nonprofit Roundtable, when she, Chuck Bean, and a group of advisors and nonprofit professionals came together and began to conceive the idea for the organization in 2000. They set out with the goal of seeking to empower the nonprofit sector in the DC area by providing learning and professional development, increased awareness and marketability, and adovcacy channels to government both local and federal. Over the years that idea from a small group of nonprofit visionaries has grown into an effective organization that has provided numerous valuable services to nonprofits and their leaders, including their Tables For Ten Series, the Planning for Disaster Relief and Emergency Preparedness, the development of the Young Executive Directors Network and Future Executive Directors Fellowship, the Capital Area Foreclosure Network, and many other programs. The recipients of the awards for the Nonprofit Roundtable's video contest were announced, with CEDC partner DC Scores taking runner up to the winner, the Young Playwright's Theater.
The first plenary speaker of the day, Mario Morino of Venture Philanthropy Partners, presented some hard truths about the current financial system and what we can expect for the future of nonprofit funding in the United States. The central points of his message were that nonprofits, like their for profit counterparts are going to have to learn to be leaner and more efficient organizations in order to affect the kind of change that they seek at a lower cost. While this is not an easy message to digest for a community of service providers often already strapped for cash, the viewpoint he presents maintains that nonprofit leaders need to weave a culture of acheivement and performance into every aspect of their organization in order to be able to do more with less. Central to this idea is the ability to inspire the people within the organization to give their best, as Morino said it is, "not about numbers, it is not about models, it is not about best practices, it is about best people."
Following Mr. Morino was Paul Lee of Google.org, who used the observations of changing trends in social media and the myriad platforms by which we are now reaching the internet to address the future of internet interactions. His focus was clearly on the younger demographic, as they are the best predictors of how the internet will function as they become the professionals and leaders of tomorrow. As technology has made access to the internet easier and easier, he says the internet continues on a trend towards creating a faster, smaller, and younger world. He points out that internet speeds have grown exponentially, increasing by an average of around 40,000 times faster in the last 25 years, and that according to the Pew Research Centers today 80% of teens are on social media, with an average of 10 logins to facebook every day, and they send on average 60 text messages per day. He cited the Kony 2012 campaign of last March as an example of the change that this group can affect, and how the disbursed power of the internet can provide the most far reaching platform ever created when used correctly.
The final speaker of the day was Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, who gave a truly inspiring speech regarding the age old problem of racial profiling and discrimination in the United States. Mr. Jealous is a very accomplished person at a very young age, having been a Rhodes Scholar, the Executive Director of Amnesty International's US Human Rights Program, the Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publisher's Association as well as the editor of the Jackson Advocate. Through all of this experience he developed a viewpoint and standards of excellence that have served him well at the NAACP, growing their revenue consistenly through the economic downturn and increasing the footprint of an organization that now boasts over 650,000 "online activists". These activists remind us that while it can often be tempting to take for granted the progress that has been made in race relations in America, the evil of racial profiling still rears its ugly head rather often. One horrible miscarraige of justice clearly is the New York City stop and frisk program, a program by which in 2011 police made 168,126 "Stop and Frisk" stops of young black men, a number greater than the 158,406 young black men in New York. This all done in the name of reducing guns on the street, while police found guns in less than 2% of all stop and frisks, and recent numbers have that percentage dropping below 0.2%. The numbers and sheer magnitude of this injustice are shocking, and have led to the collaboartion of the NAACP with varied organizations including LGBT civil rights advocates to call for an end to this flawed policy.
Later in the week we will post more in depth analysis of the presentations of the three plenary speakers, but the morning truly gave the Nonprofit leaders of DC a chance to gather together to celebrate the Nonprofit Roundtable, and to hear some truly thought provoking and inspiring speeches. We certainly are grateful for all the the Nonprofit Roundtable brings to the DC region, and look forward to celebrating their next 10 years of success a decade from now.