EXCELLENT NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS ENHANCE THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR EVERYONE
Nonprofit organizations improve the quality of life in so many ways, from Arts to Zoos and lots of life-saving, life-changing services in between. Nonprofits are often playing a connecting role in communities to facilitate private residents, local governments, businesses, and other organizations making connections to improve the quality of life. Maryland Nonprofits aims to raise awareness of the important work of nonprofits, and to help nonprofits connect with each other for greater collaboration and effectiveness.
QUALITY OF LIFE INITIATIVE
Maryland Nonprofits’ Quality of Life Initiative serves to develop a long-term vision and strategy for a better Maryland through collaborative efforts between nonprofits, business and government. We seek to leverage the often invisible leadership role that nonprofits play in bringing business and government together to address systemic problems. We will use our resources to convene member organizations and leaders to have a series of conversations that will move from the short-term actions generally focused on survival, to a more long-term effort that taps unmet potential. Together, groups working outside of and across our silos can create an agenda for Maryland’s future that will stand decades from now, and can be used by any organization who sees their mission tied to this work.
STATE OF OUR STATE: MARYLAND'S QUALITY OF LIFE ADDRESS
The first of its kind, the State of our State Address highlights the major indicators that impact Maryland’s communities, economy and environment, and point a way toward better public policy and collaborative action to make Maryland a better place to live.
QUALITY OF LIFE SUMMIT
The Quality of Life Initiative was launched at the March 2015 Quality of Life Summit convened by Maryland Nonprofits where participants developed a 20-year vision for the future and generated a list of obstacles and opportunities to achieving that vision. During this long-term visionary conversation, 150 participants from nonprofits, businesses and government, rolled up their sleeves to define what is important for Maryland’s future. The Summit emphasized the important leadership role that nonprofits can play in connecting with each other and connecting with business and government to produce great results in communities.
Quality of Life Summit Outcomes>>
QUALITY OF LIFE STRATEGY COUNCIL
To further this work, Maryland Nonprofits has convened the Quality of Life Strategy Council to provide thought leadership to this overall effort. This advisory group will connect the dots to help guide where we want to go in the state. Our aim is to utilize the strategy to catalyze and coordinate efforts that span the nonprofit sector across different fields (such as health, environment, education and the arts) for greater impact, and to connect these efforts more effectively to business and government.
The role of the Strategy Council will be to:
- Review outcomes of the Quality of Life Summit to refine the Quality of Life Vision and other aspects of the evolving Quality of Life strategy.
- Advise on process steps and issue areas for further consultation and research on the goals and objectives in the Quality of Life strategy.
- Identify data sources and data-producing organizations that should be included in developing the Quality of Life Dashboard.
- Provide overall advice on strategic direction to the Quality of Life Initiative.
The Quality of Life Strategy Council is chaired by Mike Mitchell, of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and member of the Maryland Nonprofits Board. Members of the Council are appointed by the President/CEO of Maryland Nonprofits and serve in an advisory role. The first meeting of the Council was on June 30, 2015 where Maryland Nonprofits introduced selected nonprofit, business and government leaders to the Quality of Life initiative and their role as participants on the Council. The outcome from this group will be a shared vision for Maryland’s future, with values, goals and priorities defined together recognizing the steep challenges the state faces – particularly around issues of equity and the environment.
USING QUALITY OF LIFE INDICATORS FOR BETTER PUBLIC POLICY: THE QUALITY OF LIFE DASHBOARD
How do we measure the impact of this work? The State of Maryland was the first in the nation to adopt the Genuine Progress Indicators, as a way to quantify how well the economy is doing in relation to our quality of life. The GPI includes economic factors similar to the GDP, but also includes social and environmental indicators that are important to communities.
Maryland Nonprofits’ goal is to ensure Maryland continues to use such indicators that include revisions to the GPI that are important to nonprofits – such as measures for health, the arts and education. We also want the legislature and government to use these as a tool for making major economic policies. For example, a GPI analysis of the minimum wage
showed that increasing the minimum wage could yield $2 billion per year for Maryland’s economy.
Recognizing the GPI is just one indicator that measures quality of life, Maryland Nonprofits will develop a live “dashboard” of key data that indicate the extent to which Maryland is making progress on improving the quality of life. We will use already existing data sources, such as the State’s Genuine Progress Indicators, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Report, the State Health Improvement Process (SHIP) Indicators, the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicator Alliance and others.
There will be a subcommittee focused on gathering existing data from multiple sources that are deemed to be important for determining the quality of life in Maryland. The Dashboard Subcommittee will be chaired by a member of the Quality of Life Strategy Council, and will include additional experts and representatives from data-producing organizations. Their role will be to identify data sources to include in the Quality of Life Dashboard and to advice on the development of the website. The group’s focus will be on setting goals around quality of life, so that the dashboard will be a powerful tool to help achieve these outcomes.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
How does your organization improve quality of life? What indicators does your organization impact?
Let us know.