Submitted by Robert Evans, founder and managing director of The EHL Consulting Group

What a pleasure to talk directly with representatives of more than 75 Philadelphia-area non-profits at Nonprofit Trends & Issues: Coming out of the Recession under the banner of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. I was able to be a bit provocative about perspectives on succeeding as the economy improves! And along the way, several dozen for-profit organizations sent men and women who shared a common agenda: either to learn about being better donors or to market to the non-profits that also belong to the Chamber.

I do hope that some of what I projected was thought-provoking and challenging. Certainly the words from the three other participants were insightful and professionally driven.

My presentation focused on the good news (and some bad news) about fundraising in the recovering economy. A recently-released “white paper” from the Giving Institute and Giving USA served as the basis of my presentation; the document is available on-line here and I urge Chamber members to read about how the other downturns in the economy have impacted charitable giving previously and what predictions they have for the future. Based on history, we can expect about three to four years before giving returns to previous high levels set in 2007, but we may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

The questions and comments I received and the thoughts that the three distinguished panelists suggested would lead us to treasure networking; we can certainly share each other’s stories and experiences and learn from one another. And perhaps that’s the value of attending various seminars and workshops, be them at the Chamber of Commerce or in other settings.

But the one lesson we should all understand is the value of coming together to strengthen our city and region. The non-profit sector is such an important and dominating aspect of the economy here, but all-too-often we tend to forget the value of gaining total perspective on important issues. With fundraising so critical today and non-profits seemingly requiring so much creative and positive support, meetings that the Chamber convenes can only help all of us to better serve the millions of people in Greater Philadelphia who are looking for better educational resources, more comprehensive health and medical options, creative arts and cultural opportunities, and social and human services that touch and protect people. Successful fundraising in Philadelphia is critical, especially right now, and the resources do in fact exist to make sure that needs are met and services flourish.

I strongly believe that 2010 will be a far better year for all of us if we come together as a strong and committed community!