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Talking Points

  • America's nonprofit community is an unparalleled force for advancing the common good. It provides millions of people with powerful, independent, and voluntary methods for addressing the issues and expressing the values most important to them.
  • Strong communities play a protective role in human development. Communities have inherent strengths and resources and the capacity to positively address their own issues.
  • Community development has defined and is often cited as the birth of the social work profession. Early social workers set a practice agenda that called for simultaneous focus on the inter-relationship of individuals and community development.
  • The nonprofit sector employs 10 percent of the American workforce, approximately 13.5 million people. It is a critical link between the business and government sectors.
  • There are 1.9 million nonprofits, foundations, and religious congregations based in the U.S. who work around the world—on their own, in coordination with other charitable organizations, and in partnership with government and business—in every aspect of human endeavor. Their ultimate goal: improving lives. (Independent Sector, 2012)
  • A comprehensive social services system is needed to enhance the health, self-sufficiency, social functioning, and well-being of individuals, families and communities. 
  • Social services should be accessible, attainable and offered in a way that encourages voluntary use. No criteria—including gender, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, religion, political views, race, and ethnic and national origin—should be used to limit access.
  • The structure and funding of social service agencies and programs vary.  Some are government, community or foundation funded.  Others depend on individual and organizational philanthropic contributions.  A few have endowments which earn enough annual interest to pay operational costs. Others operate on a fee-for-service basis.
  • Since the founding of the social work profession in the late 19th century, social workers have balanced the demands of providing direct services and operating complex organizations. 
  • A great organization is one that delivers superior performance and makes a distinctive impact over a long period of time. In non-profits, performance is relative to mission, not financial returns, and is the primary definition of success. (Good to Great and the Social Sectors, Jim Collins 2005)
  • All modern organizations are in need of competent managerial leaders.  They require people who can lead in challenging environments and assure organizational stability amid constant change and intense competition.  Organizations need leaders with both technical competence and interpersonal excellence. (Effectively Managing NonProfit Organizations, NASW Press 2006)
  • Essential skills in a nonprofit leader include: boundary spanning, human relations, coordinating, directing, innovation, evaluation, facilitation, team building and advocacy.
  • Social workers are more than likely to work in organizations that provide health and human services. The majority of NASW’s 145,000 members practice social work with a private nonprofit organization. (NASW Center for Workforce Studies, 2009)
  • Effective community social work practice is integrative, inclusive, comprehensive, collaborative, participatory, strengths and assets focused. It is founded on building capacity and sustainability. It is focused on the present with an eye toward the future.
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