Nonprofits are not alone

December 16, 1992

These are hard times for charitable and nonprofit organizations, especially small ones. Corporate donations dry up. Government grants shrink. Normally generous people are saving until they see how the recession goes. And often the small nonprofit organization is not very efficient about grant-writing, fund-raising, management of what resources it has and other skills for which large organizations employ professionals.

Help is at hand in the form of peers, professionals and information-sharing. The Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations is up and running as a statewide trade association for this important sector of the economy and society.

The organization will lobby, when needed, in Annapolis and Washington. It offers services that small charitable organizations cannot afford on their own, such as cooperative buying for lower prices and a package of insurance and other benefits to offer employees. It offers training and technical assistance in management skills, often in the form of mutual help by organizations lending each other their skills and know-how. It offers information and networking to a lot of organizations that often do not know each other and should.

The birth of the association stems from a movement toward greater awareness of nonprofit agencies as an important sector of the economy. Like any other major industry, the theory holds, this sector must advance its own interests in order to serve the public as well as its members seek to do.

One highlight of this movement was publication in 1990 of the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies on the Baltimore area nonprofit sector. Another was the effort of Partners for Giving to stimulate greater philanthropy and volunteerism. The association is also part of a national trend, being the 21st such statewide group in the country.

The Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations carries on these concerns from new quarters in South Baltimore. Peter V. Berns, formerly of the Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland Attorney General's office, is executive director. To paraphrase an ubiquitous advertisement, it doesn't do good, it nTC helps others do good better.

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