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Nonprofits Proliferate: What Does it Mean for the Church?
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The number of nonprofit organizations recognized by the Federal government has doubled since the mid-1980s. There are now more than 800,000 groups with 501(c)3 status under the IRS code.

That may seem like a lot of competition for donations, volunteers and public attention, but it is important to take into consideration that many, if not most, of these "new" nonprofits are actually local units of national groups which were at one time covered by an "umbrella" status and have filed for their own, separate 501(c)3 status. For example, Adventist Community Services–the domestic charity in the U.S. sponsored by  the Seventh-day Adventist Church–included some 30 local affiliates in the 1990s, but has more recently decided that these affiliates must seek their own, separate status and can no longer come under the 501(c)3 of the national office.

In many ways this is simply another example of the  megatrends toward localism and participatory governance. The key question for highly-centralized organizations like the Adventist Church is not how to escape or mitigate the impact of these trends–that’s simply not possible to any realistic degree–but how can local focus and participatory governance be sources of energy for the mission of the church?

Trend Analysis Report (2003) - Source: Associated Press, Nov 30, 2002.