The Chronicle of Philanthropy flagged this story from Hattiesburg, Mississippi yesterday about a plan by the Secretary of State to review the 38000 nonprofits registered in the State.
The headline and story made me think about Rob Reich's "Anything Goes" research on the rate (98+ %) at which the IRS approves new nonprofits every year. And notice that up to 25% of the nation's nonprofits may lose their tax exemptions this year because of a filing requirement certainly raises key questions about the ecosystem of organizations.
It made me think about the discussion we've had here on this blog about "Crowdsourcing community needs" and peer review as part of the nonprofit (and some would add, foundation) approval process.
It made me think of the efforts by the folks at NonprofitMapping.org to map the number of nonprofits and then get the AGs offices in each state to release the data in a way that anyone could access it.
Which, of course, got me thinking about Open Data and philanthropy - which always gets me excited - and about which we have a fun announcement coming out on Monday (stay tuned).
And it really made me wonder "What is the Secretary of State's survey going to ask?" The story in the Hattiesburg American doesn't answer that question. All it says is:
"... the secretary of state's office in the next few weeks will mail letters to the nonprofits to ask questions about their fundraising and their activities. "Mississippians are the most charitable people in the country. We need to know these groups are doing right by them," Hosemann said."Ooh, that is so intriguing.... What would you ask of nonprofits in your state if you could survey them to find out if they are "doing right by [the people of your community]?" What a great opportunity to crowdsource questions from the people of Mississippi (and elsewhere) to inform such a survey.
- What do the people want to know?
- What should they want to know?
- What do they have a right to know?
- What do you want to know?