Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

Hidden at Home

Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

Hidden at Home

Article excerpt

COMMUNICATIONS

What do you get when you ask nonprofit executives and the public the same question about pressing social issues? Different answers

When a national survey last year revealed big differences in what nonprofit practitioners and the public regard as the most pressing social problems, the Forbes Funds expected that its neighbors in Pittsburgh would be different. With a strong civic culture, public-private partnerships, and four graduate programs in nonprofit management, Pittsburgh residents would be much more likely to appreciate the severity of these concerns in their community, Forbes thought.

However, in a report released in August, Forbes researchers found that the same trends identified in 2003 by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change held true for Allegheny County (chart, below). Those surveyed were asked to rate five social problems - quality of education, hunger, affordable housing, crime/neighborhood safety, and illiteracy - in order of seriousness. While the general public rated crime/neighborhood safety as the most significant problem, nonprofit executives rated it fourth. Nonprofit executives, meanwhile, rated hunger as the second most serious social ill; the public at large ranked it last.

What does it all mean? "The message about the need for services is not getting out," says John Chapin, who wrote the report for Campos, a market research firm retained by Forbes. "People feel those problems cannot exist here."

The results surprised Joyce Rothermel, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, a network of 350 affiliates that serve 120,000 people each month. …

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