Lessons Nonprofits can Learn from Demise of Noted Agency

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During the course of its 35 years, Public/Private Ventures — a well-regarded nonprofit that combined practice and research to learn the best ways to serve youth from high-poverty communities — taught its share of valuable lessons.

But in its last weeks of existence, one of the Philadelphia-based organization’s final reports, titled “Building Stronger Nonprofits Through Better Financial Management,” offered several lessons that were applicable to the organization itself.

The agency issued the report full of advice on how nonprofits can survive just weeks before it closed its own doors, shut down its website and turned off its phones in late July.

Now, its many publications, or at least the titles, are archived at Foundation Center and searchable by the agency’s name.

Former insiders saying the organization’s practices were to blame for the organization’s demise, while the organization itself blames the economic downturn.

Regardless of which explanation deserves the most merit, the organization’s departure has left former executives, ex-employees and others in the youth-work field speculating about whether anything could have been done differently to keep the organization afloat.

Irv Katz, president and CEO of the National Human Services Assembly, a Washington, D.C.-based association of nonprofits that work in human services and related fields, is among those who wonder if things could have been done differently to salvage P/PV.

He called P/PV a “go-to resource for evidence about the effectiveness of social strategies.”

Katz said while he had no direct knowledge of the circumstances that led to P/PV’s closure, he was not completely surprised, either.

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