Fighting the Fragmentation within The Nonprofit Sector

“Too often people and organizations with a great deal to gain from working together operate independently. At best, they move ahead on parallel tracks, making marginal progress toward their goals. At worst, they work at cross-purposes, blunting each others achievements. They miss opportunities, increase their own cost, drain resources from others, and minimize their impact. It often seems as if their trapped in separate rooms with no connecting doors.
While the fragmentation of interests certainly seems to happen a great deal in our region, it is not unique top Greater Philadelphia or to the non-profit sector. Isolated actors miss opportunities and burn resources at all levels of government and business in any geographic region, ceding power to those who benefit from the status-quo.
The William Penn Foundation’s grant-making process has evolved over the past decade, they have found the best opportunities to achieve their regional advancement missions by encouraging, supporting and in some cases, promote otherwise independent actors to unite around shared interest. This foundation provides the necessary resources in order for these actors to work together by identifying and rewarding strong leadership.
The William Penn Foundation understands certain approaches do not work every time, and they are seldom easy, particularly for the people and organizations that have to make the necessary compromises and do the work of collaboration. The Foundation appreciates that it takes a great deal of humility to check one’s own interest at the door, while finding a common cause with others for the betterment of the entire region.
Philadelphia has one of the most dysfunctional systems of planning and zoning of any major American city. This opaque system is closed to citizens and rife with opportunities for corruption. It rewards mediocrity and discourages new ideas and new blood.
Several years ago, William Penn Foundation sponsored a study that catalogued these problems and proposed a reform agenda. It was initially the work of an association of developers, but with creative coalition building, the work rose to another level.
Eventually, 75 organizations endorsed the agenda, including neighborhood civic groups, affordable housing agencies, design advocates, and others. The breadth of political support for change created public expectations for radical reform. All six candidates for mayor in the city’s 2007 Democratic Primary pledged support for major planning and zoning reform, something the Foundation thought unattainable. The strength was not in the idea itself, but in the realization that the safe political position was on the side of smart reform. Appointments by the new mayor suggest that this work may finally achieve something that has been talked about for years”.

After extensive reports and surveys outlined above regarding the many organizations in the region, it is clear that this sector certainly has the potential to exceed specific expectations concerning the availability of erecting collaborative efforts toward expanding the interest of the greater community.
To that extent, new and improved leadership roles are imperative in the re-structuring processes associated with offering fresh initiatives, ideas and direction in the social services fields. WPF

Fighting the Fragmentation within The Nonprofit Sector


Hyattsville, United States

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