USC Price School of Public Policy

Why Do Nonprofits Matter?

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The nonprofit sector is where change is directed at society’s most daunting public problems. In addressing issues ranging from school reform to health care access; economic development to cleaner environments; affordable housing to greater mobility; civic engagement to effective governance — and many more — nonprofits actively serve the global public good.

Within the sector, organizations provide essential public services, advocate for public policy and social change, and help form and sustain the networks that strengthen the bonds of communities.

Philanthropy enables nonprofits to fulfill this unique role, distinct from government and business. Philanthropic contributions and volunteerism provide the venture capital for nonprofits to develop innovative solutions by encouraging experimentation and risk-taking. Consequently, the nonprofit sector is an important source of social innovation – whether by itself or in concert with government or business – not only in the U.S., but worldwide.

Nonprofits, philanthropy, and social innovation are three areas of study crucial to addressing today’s most pressing issues. The lessons that can be learned from each other and the possibilities of added value through collaboration are a big part of advancing society and improving quality of life.