Feb 27, 2014

Archivist’s Pick: On Mobilizing the Conscience of a Community

Here’s this month’s piece from the Drucker Institute’s archivist, Bridget Lawlor. By drawing lessons from the vast treasure trove of papers and other objects that are collected in Peter Drucker’s archives, Bridget is giving new life to decades-old material.

In this 1986 memo by Charles Sykes, director of the global relief agency CARE, we see one of Peter Drucker’s core ideas about the social sector spring to life.

Drucker believed that nonprofits not only provide great benefits to the recipients of their services, but they also play a crucial role in the lives of their volunteers and others who help support their mission. Participation in the social sector “restores the civic responsibility that is the mark of citizenship, and the civic pride that is the mark of community,” he wrote in Post-Capitalist Society.

As Drucker saw it, CARE’s real mission was to “serve as a channel for the people of this country to express their concern . . . mobilizing the conscience of Americans,” Sykes explains.

With this in mind, Drucker’s advice was for CARE not to approach people merely as potential donors. “We should approach them,” Sykes says, “in terms of what we can do for them—at the community level.”

Drucker clearly found his own sense of civic pride by helping CARE. A financial supporter of the organization since 1967, Drucker soon began actively encouraging others to give to CARE and eventually provided pro-bono management advice, donating several days a year to work directly with the board and staff.

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