Independent Sector is a coalition of leading foundations, corporate giving programs, and nonprofit organizations working to promote a just and inclusive society of active citizens by strengthening nonprofits and the philanthropic community. In partnership with its members, Independent Sector communicates the value and successes of the American tradition of giving and volunteering; researches and analyzes the scope of the nonprofit sector and trends in giving and volunteering; promotes a healthy policy and legislative environment for nonprofits; and champions effective collaborations among the business, government, and nonprofit sectors.
Purpose of Site:
To provide information on the size and scope of the nonprofit sector and the giving and volunteering that support it. It also provides information on the various activities of Independent Sector, including its advocacy efforts, and resources that help nonprofits promote themselves. Also, the site acts as a meeting place for leaders of the philanthropic and nonprofit sector to help them stay abreast of emerging trends affecting the sector.
Independent Sector was founded in 1980 to preserve and enhance the charitable sector. It has had a significant impact on strengthening public policy related to nonprofit organizations, improving accountability and disclosure of nonprofits, building a body of research about the sector, and educating policymakers and the public about the important role of the nonprofit sector in a vibrant democracy. Independent Sector has more than 700 members, including eight of the top ten contributing corporations, 21 of the nation's 25 largest foundations, and a strong network of small and new organizations.
From the home page of the Independent Sector Web site, users are just one click away from almost every page on the site. A list of categories, including About Us, Member Area, and Issues, are displayed across the top of the page, and another list that includes Giving and Volunteeringand Publicationsis on the left side of the page. Moving a mouse over one of these categories reveals a more specific menu within that category. For example, moving the mouse to the Newsroomcategory makes reveals another menu with links to press releases, mentions of Independent Sector in the press, or contact informationfor media relations. A site-wide search feature is also prominently displayed on the Web site's home page.
The Nonprofit Pathfinderis one of the many impressive features on the Independent Sector site. Launched in 1999 as a joint project between Independent Sector and the University of Maryland Civil Society/Community Building Initiative, the Pathfinder organizes research on the nonprofit/philanthropic sector from academic centers, nonprofits, think tanks, and foundations. The Pathfinder is organized into four categories: Innovations profiles of experiments in community building; Measuring Impact methodologies for defining results of charitable efforts; Research Resources sources of information on the nonprofit sector; and Bibliographies the literature and libraries of the sector. The Pathfinder also includes a search option to help users find information on specific topics and organizations. Independent Sector assumed full responsibility for the site in 2001 and updates it weekly.
The Independent Sector Web site also offers a number of tools that help nonprofits advance their goals and strengthen the overall sector. The Charity Lobbying in Public Interestarea of the site offers detailed information on why lobbying is important for charities, lobbying laws for 501(c)(3) and (4) organizations, training tools that teach nonprofits how to lobby, and tips for motivating employees and volunteers to lobby. The Giving Voice to Your Heartpart of the site provides the materials to help publicize nonprofits' efforts, including guidelines for talking to the media and authoring Op-ed pieces and letters to the editor for newspapers.