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ARNOVA's 47th Annual Conference

Austin, Texas
November 15-17, 2018
From Relief to Resilience: How Philanthropy, Nonprofits and Volunteers Bridge the Gap between Crisis and Sustainability


Over the last few years, citizens around the globe have faced a litany of challenging crises. The list seems to go on and on: natural disasters in the form of hurricanes, droughts, and fires; increased threats to civil society even in established democracies like the United States; the political instability of Brexit; refugee crises; increasing climate change; and domestic and international terrorism. Many communities have suffered and governments have often fallen short of promises. In this context, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and voluntarism are more important than ever, but how best to carry out this vital work? And how can social sector organizations overcome the challenges of collaboration and coordination to jointly contribute to community resilience? For the 2018 conference, ARNOVA will shine a light on efforts to build sustainable and resilient communities around the globe in the midst of ongoing challenges.

Our location in Texas provides a microcosm of both the human service priorities and management issues facing the broader nonprofit and voluntary sector.  In rural areas of Texas, hundreds of miles separate small communities, threatening to distance them from resources and attention. Even within thriving cities, the ability to collaborate effectively remains a challenge and there is no unifying body to connect philanthropic efforts across the state.  Differences in community capacity create challenges for public trust and accountability, requiring nonprofit and community leaders to effectively manage and meet public expectations in an inclusive and equitable way.  With an international border, local issues become global, and the role of nongovernmental actors is even more critical to developing immediate and long-term responses. In short, Texas’ challenges provide valuable lessons for the philanthropic and nonprofit sector globally.   

In times of crisis, we face a call to react with compassion and commitment. From community leaders to chambers of commerce, family foundations to community foundations, from well-connected nonprofit organizations to small social enterprises, how can the third sector organize in new ways in order to achieve a more sustainable future? Some questions we are particularly interested in for the 2018 conference include: How can nonprofits and philanthropic organizations of all shapes and sizes work better to address community needs? How do emergency situations expose certain vulnerabilities, or strengths, of the nonprofit and voluntary sector? What capacity and role does the nonprofit sector have to tackle physical infrastructure and development issues that are traditionally the domain of government? How can we build sustainable programs that address the diversity and complexity of populations and geography? How can notions of civic engagement and community mobilization be used to inform nonprofit strategy around issues of sustainability? How can we be better prepared to handle future natural and man-made disasters and make sure the efforts are sustained? What can we learn from effective rebuilding and resistance efforts that can help address other social and environmental challenges in our communities?

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