There is nothing like CharityChannel! Our merry band of nonprofit sector practitioners, numbering in the tens of thousands, has been quietly shaping the nonprofit sector for a quarter century.
Our Place in the World
In 1992, Stephen Nill founded CharityChannel as a place for innovation in support of the nonprofit practitioner community. It would occupy the middle ground between professional associations, on the one hand, and profit-driven service and product providers, on the other. He observed that professional associations, so vital to the professionalism and competence of the nonprofit practitioner community, were by nature and necessity collegiate bodies that required considerable deliberation before implementing new programs and policies. On the other hand, for-profit service and product providers were quick to innovate, as is the nature of entrepreneurial enterprises, but too often lacked the deep roots in and connectedness to nonprofit practitioners and their values. Nill was determined that CharityChannel would combine the best of both worlds — deep ties with the nonprofit practitioner community and its values yet a strong spirit of innovation so vital to ushering in genuine advancement for the profession.
Nill was determined, too, to welcome to the CharityChannel professional community, not just those who worked directly for a nonprofit organization, but those who serve the sector through providing innovative and vital services and products. This “big tent” of practitioners, which began with the launch of the CharityTalk listserve (see below), is unique the nonprofit sector.
Because of its deep history of ushering in innovative thinking yet deep respect for the philanthropic traditions and precepts of our sector, CharityChannel uniquely attracts many of the sector’s master practitioners and forward thinkers. Indeed, our first online summit in late 2017, CharityChannel’s Masters of Fundraising Summit ™, featured interviews of some of the outstanding fundraising leaders of our profession. Nill's article in the Winter 2018 issue of AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy showcases the summit and seeks to point to the future of fundraising by picking up on key themes that emerged during the two-week event.
CharityChannel is Born as a Simple Listserve
In 1992, while serving as Senior Vice President of Development at a West Coast nonprofit hospital chain, Stephen Nill had just hired a dozen new development officers and wanted to find a way for them to be able to "talk shop" with their counterparts at other organizations without having to wait for monthly professional-association meetings. So he launched the first Internet-based professional discussion community in the nonprofit sector, a listserve called "CharityTalk."
Within a week, he had two dozen nonprofit professionals discussing their day-to-day challenges. Within a month, over 300. In six months, over 2,000. It kept growing as more and more nonprofit professionals learned about it by word of mouth.
Over 100,000 in Our Professional Community
By the end of the nineties, CharityChannel added more discussion lists to focus on different professional topic areas, growing to over 200 professional discussion communities where over 65,000 nonprofit professionals could discuss their day-to-day challenges, share their hard-won expertise and wisdom, and offer each other encouragement. Over a million and a half emails a month coursed through CharityChannel's servers.
Based on conservative estimates, the CharityChannel professional community grew to encompass over 100,000 nonprofit professionals by the end of the decade.
We Have Published Over 2,000 Articles for Busy Nonprofit Practitioners
When the attack of 9/11 came, the CharityChannel professional community was abuzz with discussions about how to make a philanthropic response that would serve as a beacon of hope for years to come. After much discussion, it was decided that we would begin to publish articles written by experienced practitioners where they shared their hard-won expertise and wisdom with their peers. Less than two months later, we published the first article.
Since then, hundreds of contributors have written over 2,000 articles, with over 1,300 available (articles that are no longer relevant, particularly on technology subjects, are removed from time to time). This trove may well be the largest single-source collection of collective wisdom of relevance to nonprofit organizations in the world.
We Launched Our Book Publishing Project
In 2009, having by that point published hundreds of well-received articles contributed by experienced members of the large and growing CharityChannel professional community, our book-publishing project, focusing on nonprofit books for busy nonprofit practitioners, was launched. As of January 2018, the project has published 78 books with a full pipeline of forthcoming books in various stages of writing, revision, editing, layout, printing, and distribution.
We Took Our CharityChannel Summits Online
CharityChannel held its first annual summit, The CharityChannel Summit 2003, at the Hilton Palm Springs Resort March 9 through 12, 2003. Over 900 members of the CharityChannel professional community participated in sessions covering such topics as major gifts, capital campaigns, planned giving, sustainable fundraising, leadership, human resources management, the law of tax-exempt organizations, technology, and consulting.
Building on the success of the annual summits, in 2017, in celebration of our Silver Anniversary, we launched our first live online summit, CharityChannel's Masters of Fundraising Summit™. This two-week free event featured streamed interviews with 30 fundraising masters and drew over 1,100 registrants. With the success of the first online summit, we're diving in to produce more CharityChannel Summits as well as online courses. Stay tuned!
The Next 25 Years
CharityChannel is uniquely positioned, after 25 years of quiet, steady, forward thinking, to spark innovation and will be focusing on creating an even more welcoming environment for our sector’s leaders to usher in new and better thinking and practices – without losing sight of the immense importance of our sector’s underlying precepts and traditions.
We shall continue to publish books by and for busy practitioners. We shall continue to publish articles from practitioners who have a demonstrable track record of success and a willingness to share what they’ve learned from the trenches. We shall create, on a regular schedule, online CharityChannel Summits featuring our sector’s most distinguished practitioners and covering a diversity of topic themes.