Let’s get the obvious out of the way: times are tough for local nonprofits. Funders are hurting, the Big Three are struggling, charitable giving is expected to drop, and the rest of 2009 is a question mark. Experts are seriously pondering future scenarios for the nonprofit sector.

On the other hand, it’s also a time of tremendous creativity and opportunity in southeast Michigan. Nonprofits like the Child Care Network in Ann Arbor are utilizing community input and careful strategic planning to chart a new course. The Detroit-based Cultural Alliance of Southeast Michigan has launched a great shared resource portal for its members. Folks like the Gleaners Food Bank in Detroit are stepping up to growing demand from our friends and neighbors in our community. Regional funders are adjusting their giving patterns to respond to the growing challenges of the economy. There’s even budding optimism about the national economic outlook.

In the present, though, we’re all feeling the growing tension between our need for survival and our need to achieve our missions. What I wonder every day is:  what are the keys to not just surviving, but actually thriving, in these challenging times?

-Neel Hajra, President/CEO