Why Nonprofits Need to be a Part of Citizen Engagement

As we discuss how government agencies can better engage citizens it is also important to focus on how the nonprofits that provide government services can better engage citizens. Steven Smith surveys the vast number of nonprofit organizations and discusses how they evolved from “membership” organizations formed by community volunteers to “services” organizations that are staffed with professionals. Smith argues that this transformation from membership to services caused the nonprofits to weaken or lose their abilities in citizen engagement.

Smith suggests the following to bring citizen engagement back into nonprofit services:

“- the incorporation of governance and community engagement considerations into government contracting requirements and expectations,
– a rethinking of the relationship between nonprofit organizations and their community and their client,
– new approaches to nonprofit governance that promote citizen participation and engagement, and
– a sustained commitment by government and nonprofits to improving their infrastructure and capacity.”

Given the size of the nonprofit sector and President Obama’s commitment to increasing the nonprofit presence in delivering government services, any discussions on citizen engagement need to include ideas on how nonprofits big and small can be part of OpenGov.

Smith, S.R. (2010). Nonprofits and public administration: Reconciling performance management and citizen engagement. The American Review of Public Administration, 40. 129-152.

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Terrence (Terry) Hill PHR

All good points. FEMA’s Citizen Corps is a great example of the partnerships between government and non-profits to help communities prepare for and respond to disasters. Citizen Corps is FEMA’s grassroots strategy to bring together government and community leaders to involve citizens in all-hazards emergency preparedness and resilience.

There are currently 2,435 Citizen Corps Councils which serve 227,692,084 people or 80% of the total U.S. population. Their Affiliates offer communities resources for public education, outreach, and training; represent volunteers interested in helping to make their community safer; or offer volunteer service opportunities to support first responders, disaster relief activities, and community safety efforts.

Marvin S. Robinson, II

THANK YOU, I could not agree more !!! THIS type of information/comentary is exactly why really enjoy the GovLoop site so much !!! I only wished there were more people in our network with the QUINDARO RUINS / UNDERGROUND RAILROAD- Exercise 2010 and the QUINDARO TOWN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, Inc. who understood the magnitude of this almost undescribeable tool of communication. THANKS alot,