Big Nonprofit Ideas for the Other 95%
How We Got Here, Revisited
In June 2016, Dr. Robert Penna shared an early, partial excerpt of the book he was working on. The book is published and he’s back to explain the unpredictable trajectory that led to today’s nonprofit sector. His book is “Braided Threads.”
Tony and his guest, Dr. Robert M. Penna talk about his book and the evolution of the nonprofit sector throughout American history.
Tony opens the show welcoming Dr. Penna, writer of Braided Threads, onto the show. Dr. Penna talks about his book and how knowing your history is essential, especially in nonprofits. He reveals the meaning behind the name of his book, and how it’s an interconnected braid. Dr. Penna talks about how Martin Luther and the Reformation influenced the current state of the nonprofit sector. Next he talks about Queen Elizabeth’s statute of charitable uses and its influence on the further secularization of charity and how it changed the idea of charity.
Dr. Penna continues to talk about the historical changes to charity, with his findings on Puritan culture and history in the early days of the colonization of America. Next he talks about how Southern Evangelicals, Baptists, Methodists, and others contributed to some of the first nationwide charities. Tony jumps backward in time and asks how several ancient cultures viewed charity, such as the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, and Dr. Penna details how it worked. Next, they jump back to the beginnings of the United States and talk about how the separation of church and state influenced charity work. Dr. Penna proceeds to go through history and talk about this country’s history with slavery and nonprofit work and Ben Franklin and how he is credited with starting one of the first nonprofit organizations.
Tony opens the segment with Tony’s Take Two, talking about the important “worker bees,” the hard-working people who don’t always get the recognition that they deserve, then he reads where his audience is listening in from and reads some comments. They continue the conversation where they left off and dive into tax exemptions and the part they played in the historical buildup to the current state of nonprofits.
They continue their conversation to open the final segment. Dr. Penna details some of the large-scale nonprofit efforts back during World War 2 and how during the war, a lot of volunteers and nonprofits took care of refugees and repaired damages because the government was preoccupied with the war. Before the war, a lot of nonprofit work was through the government, and during the war it was all private. Dr. Penna gives some historical background to the community chest and how it’s more than an aspect of the Monopoly board games. Next, Dr. Penna talks about the contribution that they Jewish culture and community made. He briefly touches on Johnson’s war on poverty and the repercussions that it had. They close the show out talking about the current state of, and the future of, the nonprofit sector.