Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hey Media Editors, the Nonprofit Sector is Worth Following, “Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin’s Business News” source, just announced the release of Nonprofit Weekly. What a wonderful commitment to the community serves.

Unfortunately, such commitment is sorely lacking around the country. While no news outlet seems to miss the all-too-frequent scandals, and many are happy to publish grip and grin photos of events – often for a hefty fee – there is relatively little coverage of community impact other than the occasional human interest story around the holidays. Movers and Shakers columns may include the appointment of a nonprofit CEO or development director, but there are few columns dedicated to nonprofit issues or proven practices.

Over the years, plenty of media sources dedicated to the nonprofit arena have cropped up. And, they never seem short of news to share. Why, then, does the mainstream media believe nonprofit news is not worth the column inches?

The impact of the sector is tremendous. Ever since Lester Salamon published his seminal work The Emerging Nonprofit Sector: An Overview in 1996, where he found among other things that one in every 6.9 jobs in the US were in the nonprofit arena, communities have been studying the economic engine that we know as nonprofit organizations. The results are nothing short of astonishing. In South Florida where I live, for instance, the latest (2006) economic impact survey conducted by the Dade Community Foundation and the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s “official economic development organization,” found that almost 9 percent of all corporations in the county are nonprofits and that 15.5 percent of the total gross receipts in the state were attributed to the nonprofits just in Miami-Dade County. These numbers have been growing and are expected to continue to grow. The number of registered nonprofits in Miami-Dade rose 30 percent in the seven years between 1999 – when the county began keeping such records – and the 2006 report.

Over these same last seven years I have talked to newspapers all over the country about publishing information of use to nonprofits and have been told repeatedly by editors that there is no market. I kept wondering when someone would finally 'get it.' So, three cheers for Hopefully other mainstream media will follow.

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