Strengthening The Nonprofit Sector IPS Establishes Center for Civil Society Studies The Institute for Policy Studies has created a new center to organize the work it is doing throughout the world to promote the development of the nonprofit sector and local self-governments. The Center for Civil Society Studies is involved in research, training and education relating to the institute's Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project, the Philanthropy Fellows Program, the Third Sector Project and the Local Self-Government Project. Collectively, the projects work with local nonprofit organizations and institutions in the U.S. and Central and Eastern Europe. In 1994, IPS director Lester Salamon co-authored The Emerging Sector, which has been identified as the first serious effort to document the scale of the nonprofit sector; the work has since been translated into Japanese, Hungarian, French and Italian. A more recent book, Salamon's Partners in Public Service, was named outstanding academic book for 1995-96 by the Association of College and Research Libraries. Salamon said training is one of the most important factors in developing effective nonprofit organizations; managers, workers and volunteers often lack necessary skills. "A lot of organizations just sort of sputter because they can't quite come to closure on what their goals are," Salamon said. "We provide instruction on how to develop a mission statement that outlines a set of goals, how to translate that into a set of programs and then how to translate that into a set of tasks for people to carry out." There are various ways to measure the significance of the nonprofit sector, Salamon said. For example, there are about 7 million nonprofit employees in the U.S., or about 7 percent of total employment. In most western European countries, the average is about 4 percent of total employment, he said. "There has been a real surge of formation of these organizations, both in Central Europe and elsewhere in the world," he said. "I don't think it's an accident. There are some powerful things going on in the world." The increase of nonprofit and social service organizations may be traced in part to the surge in telecommunications throughout the world, Salamon said. "We go into rural India or rural Czech Republic and find fax machines and e-mail," he said. "People can communicate just so much easier." There are currently 42 trainers working with nonprofit leaders in countries including Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Russia and South Africa. Each will, in turn, be responsible for training hundreds, even thousands of others. Despite inherently different goals, environmental, social service, women's rights and minority groups often have some of the same initial challenges, Salamon said. "Every organization has to figure out how to structure itself. It has to make some decisions about what the rules of internal operation are, what is the role of the board of directors, what is the role of the executive," he said. "Everyone has to do a certain amount of strategic planning, regardless of its purpose." Staff management and the structure of activities are also priorities, Salamon said. "It's one of the great failings of organizations that don't have trained personnel," he said. "They bring volunteers in and people sit around and feel very underutilized." Medical professionals and social workers often tend to wind up in leadership positions of nonprofit groups, but they are not necessarily trained to handle the variety of tasks, Salamon said. "We took people who were operating very much on their own and put them in contact with others in their own countries and elsewhere, which made them realize for the first time that they were part of a sector," Salamon said. "It was very empowering to them, just on a psychological level." The training sessions also provided nonprofit workers with tangible skills on things like how to run effective meetings. "We discovered this was not something that people learned along the way or in school in central Europe," Salamon said. "Meetings would take place and it would be total pandemonium." Additionally, Civil Society Center trainers work with local government officials to help them function more effectively. "We've been able to help them, particularly in areas like Central and Eastern Europe and now South Africa, where local government hasn't had an effective voice," Salamon said. "Our work has been an attempt to equip local governments with the ability to really function in a more autonomous way than they have in many countries." Over the next year, Salamon said, indigenous nonprofit workers will relay what they have learned during their own workshops and sessions. "A lot of it is decentralized intentionally," he said. "We are deliberately trying to push the activity down to a local level and into their hands." IPS has incorporated the study of civil society into its master of arts program in policy studies and training of policy professionals. "We make a point of making students aware that public programs increasingly depend on nonprofit organizations to deliver public services," Salamon said. "That's something that tends not to be done in [other] existing policy programs. "We're taking one step beyond the research in a way comparable to what the School of Medicine does when it creates a clinical practice," Salamon said. "It uses its physicians who are doing research to actually deliver care. In the process of doing that, you learn a lot. We learn things about how the nonprofit operates."
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