Obama Boosts Nonprofits

Talk of service and sacrifice recalls JFK's words.

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In addition to spurring Americans to spend more money, Obama's win may also provide a windfall to nonprofits. This morning, Tom Pollak, program director for the Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics, told me, "I think in an Obama administration, rhetoric about service and sacrifice truly will lead to more people thinking about working in and volunteering in the nonprofit sector -- if not tomorrow, then over the next couple years."

During his speech last night, Obama said, "[Change] can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice." It recalled President John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country" -- a sentiment that spurred thousands of young Americans to join the Peace Corps and volunteer in other ways.

The challenge, Pollak says, will be for nonprofits to organize themselves to absorb new volunteers and maintain the public's trust by avoiding scandals. Also, he said, sacrifice means different things to different people, and people need to feel that the sacrifices they are making are fair.