Strengthening the Human Services Sector

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The Human Services sector finds itself today in an environment of profound change. The demography of our nation is being reconfigured. Technologies are being reinvented almost daily. The size and structure of governmental supports are in flux, as are governmental regulations. Our organizations face growing for-profit competition, expanded capital requirements, increasing donor expectations and, on the part of many would-be public supporters, an unsettling degree of “compassion fatigue.” Moreover, as one thought leader pointed out, all of these trends are here to stay.

To examine these and other concerns, The Kresge Foundation held a symposium with leaders of national networks and umbrella human services nonprofits on April 4, 2014, at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. The goals of the symposium were to:

1. Identify the major challenges and issues in the current environment that affect the capacity of human services organizations and networks to effectively deliver services.

2. Provide an opportunity for human services leaders to share knowledge and expertise with peers while forming new relationships and partnerships.

3. Develop actionable recommendations to assist in the transformation of the human services sector.

This document distills the themes of the meeting. By doing so, Kresge and the participants hope to encourage discussion of real solutions to the concerns that nonprofit human services leaders have identified.

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A summary of a symposium discussion among leaders in the human services field.

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