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A $1.3 trillion industry, the US nonprofit sector is the world’s seventh largest economy. From art museums and university hospitals to think tanks and church charities, over 1.5 million organizations of staggering diversity share the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation, if little else. Many social justice organizations have joined this world, often blunting political goals to A $1.3 trillion industry, the US nonprofit sector is the world’s seventh largest economy. From art museums and university hospitals to think tanks and church charities, over 1.5 million organizations of staggering diversity share the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation, if little else. Many social justice organizations have joined this world, often blunting political goals to satisfy government and foundation mandates. But even as funding shrinks and government surveillance rises, many activists often find it difficult to imagine movement-building outside the nonprofit model.   The Revolution Will Not Be Funded gathers original essays by radical activists from around the globe who are critically rethinking the long-term consequences of this investment. Together with educators and nonprofit staff they finally name the “nonprofit industrial complex” and ask hard questions: How did politics shape the birth of the nonprofit model? How does 501(c)(3) status allow the state to co-opt political movements? Activists--or careerists? How do we fund the movement outside this complex? Urgent and visionary, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded is an unbeholden exposé of the “nonprofit industrial complex” and its quietly devastating role in managing dissent.


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A $1.3 trillion industry, the US nonprofit sector is the world’s seventh largest economy. From art museums and university hospitals to think tanks and church charities, over 1.5 million organizations of staggering diversity share the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation, if little else. Many social justice organizations have joined this world, often blunting political goals to A $1.3 trillion industry, the US nonprofit sector is the world’s seventh largest economy. From art museums and university hospitals to think tanks and church charities, over 1.5 million organizations of staggering diversity share the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation, if little else. Many social justice organizations have joined this world, often blunting political goals to satisfy government and foundation mandates. But even as funding shrinks and government surveillance rises, many activists often find it difficult to imagine movement-building outside the nonprofit model.   The Revolution Will Not Be Funded gathers original essays by radical activists from around the globe who are critically rethinking the long-term consequences of this investment. Together with educators and nonprofit staff they finally name the “nonprofit industrial complex” and ask hard questions: How did politics shape the birth of the nonprofit model? How does 501(c)(3) status allow the state to co-opt political movements? Activists--or careerists? How do we fund the movement outside this complex? Urgent and visionary, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded is an unbeholden exposé of the “nonprofit industrial complex” and its quietly devastating role in managing dissent.

30 review for The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    An amazing set of essays about the nonprofit industrial complex and its shortcomings in regard to facilitating radical social justice. As someone who operates mostly on an individual change level through therapy and psychological research, I learned a lot about the origins of nonprofits, how their structure of funding often keeps power in the hands of the wealthy and out of the most marginalized, and how turning social justice work into a career may prevent people from creating the most radical An amazing set of essays about the nonprofit industrial complex and its shortcomings in regard to facilitating radical social justice. As someone who operates mostly on an individual change level through therapy and psychological research, I learned a lot about the origins of nonprofits, how their structure of funding often keeps power in the hands of the wealthy and out of the most marginalized, and how turning social justice work into a career may prevent people from creating the most radical change because they can always get their paychecks pulled. Reading this book made me question so much of what I know about creating change and forced me to examine my own complicity in the system. As various authors suggest, the rise of social services in some ways emerged to quell radical agitation, such that social services provide a band-aid over really rooting out racism, capitalist exploitation, etc. I’m still thinking about the implications of this knowledge and hope to for a while. Here’s a quote, one of many, that resonated, by Tiffany Lethabo King and Ewuare Osayande in their essay “the filth on philanthropy: Progressive Philanthropy’s Agenda to Misdirect Social Justice Movements”: “The white Left’s investment in reforming the giving practices of foundations and wealthy individuals through progressive philanthropy directly opposes the work of oppressed communities of color seeking to advance movements for global reparations and the just redistribution of wealth and resources. Within this reformist framework, white people and white institutions continue to control the wealth gained through the exploitation of people of color… When the white Left accepts donations of white capital on behalf of oppressed people of color, they act as brokers between the capital and the oppressed people of color who were exploited to create it. As brokers, they keep white wealth from the grasp of people of color entrenched in movements for wealth distribution, particularly the movement for reparations.” This review by Julia Deng offers a solid list of action steps to undermine the nonprofit industrial complex. The word “radical” is often defined as “of or going to the root or origin,” and I so appreciate the authors of this collection for inspiring us to delve deeper to the root. Grateful for others on Goodreads who have responded to this book and for all taking action to take our ideal world and bring it to reality. I will end this review with one more quote that I love, that emphasizes how we need both personal change and societal change, by Nicole Burrowes, Morgan Cousins, Paula X. Rjoas, and Ije Ude from their essay “on our own terms: Ten Years of Radical Community Building With Sista II Sista”: “Another aspect of our work that we stress is the personal as political, specifically the relationship between individual healing and larger community empowerment. Personal healing in isolation from a larger community cannot transform the world; neither can social action without personal and emotional development. We view internal transformation as being interconnected with social transformation; thus, creating spaces for emotional support should be viewed as political work.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    First of all, I am a hard-bitten, cynical "development professional" who, for the past ten years has worked to raise money from foundations and individuals in support of hospices and, now, orgazations assisting people with developmental disabilities. Just about everything about this book is dead-on accurate. Funding for poor people is a rich people's game. Funding for the oppressed is the game of the oppressor. Some of them do it with a conscience. Some of them do it to see their name in lights. First of all, I am a hard-bitten, cynical "development professional" who, for the past ten years has worked to raise money from foundations and individuals in support of hospices and, now, orgazations assisting people with developmental disabilities. Just about everything about this book is dead-on accurate. Funding for poor people is a rich people's game. Funding for the oppressed is the game of the oppressor. Some of them do it with a conscience. Some of them do it to see their name in lights. Some commission studies to "see that it's done right", however wrong the final study may be. They want accountability for the money they give, since they don't want anybody pissing away their dollars. And, yes. They are in charge. These women are exactly right. Foundations tame revolutionaries. Foundations keep the lowly from getting too uppity. Sometimes they do it full well knowing what they're doing (like the Pew Foundation), and sometimes I can give them the benefit of the doubt and think they do it without realizing they do it. I'm not quite as willing as many of the authors of this book to think that there's some sort of well-thought-out Marshall Plan of how to fund the masses so they won't run roughshod over capitalism that generalizes to all foundations. But the effect is the same. I have attempted to raise funds for organizations that fit the radical change profile. Foundations don't bite for all the reasons listed in this book. Angel investors come along once in awhile who are willing to sink a a few thousand into radical organizations, but, for the most part, we are on our own. And YES! The tax savings for the wealthy are sickening! I don't mind so much if that once-taxable income goes to pay for hospice care for homeless people who would otherwise die on the street. But then again, that donation, had it been added to the tax base, could have been used to keep that person off the street in the first place. There are certain categories of nonprofit that deserve their own ring of hell. For example, taxable income going to a political thinktank makes me sick, no matter what the slant of the thinktank is. That people like Bill Gates, for example, get to decide for the rest of us how to tackle world agricultural issues makes me ill (Bill throws Gates Foundation grant money at organizations that will spread the GMO gospel of the Bill's friends at Monsanto, of course!). The women who write this book point this sort of thing out. You are not standing with the oppressed if you are standing slightly taller than them, dangling cash just out of their reach, handing it off to other people of your class and persuasion in an attempt to "solve the problems of the poor". The money game is really base and disturbing when it comes to "philanthropy". I work with it every day. It is disgusting, dirty and underhanded. In the meantime, the people with the money sincerely think they are doing good with their gain (however ill-gotten it may be, and a great deal of it is VERY ill-gotten). This is an incredibly insightful book. I just wish it had more practical, useable solutions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul Gordon

    Wow. I love books that completely change my way of looking at the world. This is the kind of book that you can't help bringing up in conversations for months after it's over. This is great for anyone who is working for social change, and is still trying to figure out the best way to do that. Basically, this anthology discusses the ways in which the non-profit industry may actually be limiting our capacity to create real revolutionary change in the U.S. and abroad. Although non-profits are mostly Wow. I love books that completely change my way of looking at the world. This is the kind of book that you can't help bringing up in conversations for months after it's over. This is great for anyone who is working for social change, and is still trying to figure out the best way to do that. Basically, this anthology discusses the ways in which the non-profit industry may actually be limiting our capacity to create real revolutionary change in the U.S. and abroad. Although non-profits are mostly left-leaning, progressive organizations, the huge popularity of the non-profit model has changed the way we think about social change. Instead of revolution or mass social change, we are now trained to think about career instead of passion, servicing our clients instead of building leadership, and pleasing our funders instead of working for our communities. Of course as individuals we may deviate from these trends, but as a whole, the non profit industry has shifted the focus of the political Left in the U.S. Additionally, this book discusses some crucial issues around race and non profit work. It argues that the non profit industry has replicated the exclusion of people of color from the center of activism by privileging those organizations that already have enough power and influence (usually white-centered organizations) to win funding and lobbying battles. It also talks about NGOs as the international version of non-profits, creating similarly wasteful and short-sighted programs abroad. This book will make you think.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    At times I start getting really, really burnt out on radical leftist complaining. This is one of those times, probably because I've read too much of it recently for school. I don't know. So far this book reminds me of that great cartoon from years ago of the artist who's painted a picture of a guy in glasses and a suit and underneath it the letters "FUCKING ASSHO" only apparently the artist has just run out of paint, because he's turning to the guy standing next to him -- the exact same suit-and- At times I start getting really, really burnt out on radical leftist complaining. This is one of those times, probably because I've read too much of it recently for school. I don't know. So far this book reminds me of that great cartoon from years ago of the artist who's painted a picture of a guy in glasses and a suit and underneath it the letters "FUCKING ASSHO" only apparently the artist has just run out of paint, because he's turning to the guy standing next to him -- the exact same suit-and-glasses guy he's just painted -- and saying, "Give me a grant so I can finish my art!" So far this book is like, "So capitalists set up these foundations, and then when they give us money for our 501 (c)(3), its mission of overthrowing capitalism is compromised, because the capitalists don't want us to overthrow capitalism!" Uh, no shit, Sherlock. Actually this book does speak to a lot of the frustration and rage that I feel at my service agency right now, and hits very close to home in certain ways. It also seems a bit more sophisticated and constructive than I just made it sound. I'm going to keep reading this, but I do find something specifically exhausting about most writing with this radical leftist orientation. It's reminds me of listening to someone scream at you in a shrill voice for hours, giving you a huge headache and you just want to be like, "Please calm down. Your don't have to yell. You're sitting three feet away from me, and I already agree with most of what you're saying anyway."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tinea

    How do we know if we are being co-opted into contributing to a ruling-class agenda and just providing social service, or if we are truly helping people get together? We cannot know ourselves. We cannot know just from some people telling us that we are doing a good job or even telling us that we are making a difference. We cannot know by whether we feel good about what we do. Popularity, status, good feeling, positive feedback-- our institutions and communities provide these to many people engage How do we know if we are being co-opted into contributing to a ruling-class agenda and just providing social service, or if we are truly helping people get together? We cannot know ourselves. We cannot know just from some people telling us that we are doing a good job or even telling us that we are making a difference. We cannot know by whether we feel good about what we do. Popularity, status, good feeling, positive feedback-- our institutions and communities provide these to many people engaged in inmmoral, unethical, dangerous, exploitative, abusive, and illegal activities. As a member of the buffer zone [Non-profit workers], whether by job function or economic position, the key question we must confront is this: To whom are we accountable?" Incite! Women of Color Against Violence pulls off another creative, harshly critical, and brilliantly articulated anthology. The book asks activists: How can we challenge patriarchy, white supremacy, environmental injustice, US-hegemony and imperialism when US progressive social movements are dependent on non-profits? The non profit system pays activists to temper their revolt to keep it palatable for funders and turns grassroots social movements into professionalized client service providers. It has effectively undermined revolt in this country. "Non-profit" is by definition a tax-status awarded by the US government! And foundation funds are capital earned by the wealthy and shielded from redistribution by their foundation status. This book examines the history of how social movements in the 60s and 70s became the professional non-profits of today. It examines critically the problems of patriarchy and white supremacy that made those mass-based social movements unsustainable. And finally, it speaks to the successes of horizontal, anti-capitalist, movements in Latin America and South Africa of networked, consensus-driven autonomous areas. Localization and decentralization helps people claim domestic space as political-- these movements take care of participants' immediate needs so they don't need to search for funding to pay staff. I'm pretty fuckin inspired. The best essays were: *The introduction - history of foundations and who controls the money, to who's advantage. *"Social Service or Social Change?" - Critical look at the de-politicization of social justice movements as they increasingly took on serving people's basic needs as the Reagan admin reduced people's ablity to meet these themselves *"Pursuing a Radical Anti-Violence Agenda Inside/Outside a Non-Profit Structure" - A good case study from the anti-violence movement *"Are the Cops in Our Heads and Heats?" - Much needed lessons of successful mass-based organizing from Latin America The major flaw of this work is the lack of practical applications for US activists currently wrapped up in the non-profit system. The only option offered seemed to be: "drop the funding, quit your non-profit job, and volunteer instead." This isn't always feasible-- as one of the articles actually states, one of the main reasons non-profits are so popular is that they allow staff to earn an income while still contributing to the movement, even if the contribution is compromised by the non-profit structure. But while dropping a job to create a niche of childcare collectives and urban permaculture enclaves is appealing and important, in the US, it is not nearly enough. It's essential that we take critiques like this a step farther, and figure out how to provide ourselves with personal needs even as we aggressively take on the increasingly urgent tasks of stopping globalization, imperialism, and environmental destruction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cole

    I found this book really validating to read. Having worked in social services for the last couple of years I was really starting to feel like their was something wrong with the way things were being done, and I was constantly frustrated with the lack of accountability that the agency I work for has for its constituents. Before having read this book I was planning on going to graduate school and getting an MSW even though I knew I didn't want to be a social service or state social worker. I still I found this book really validating to read. Having worked in social services for the last couple of years I was really starting to feel like their was something wrong with the way things were being done, and I was constantly frustrated with the lack of accountability that the agency I work for has for its constituents. Before having read this book I was planning on going to graduate school and getting an MSW even though I knew I didn't want to be a social service or state social worker. I still thought that I could study social work and make a living doing it, but after having read this book I realize now that in no way can I expect to make a living in social work or community organizing without compromising my ethics and the overall goal that I was working toward. In short social service does not, and in fact is often counter to, social change. Now I'm exploring other career options, while still planning to be apart of my community on a volunteer basis. I am re-embracing the idea that the personal is political (I think it was Paulo Freire who said that). Social change is going to take a lot of people and not everyone can be a "professional" about it. This book is a must read for anyone committed to social change or considering a career in social work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julia Deng

    I'm shook!! This book is, at times, jaw-droppingly good. To those who think that it offers no practical advice for working in and around the nonprofit-industrial complex: you are wrong. Here is a list of practical suggestions straight from the text: - Don't incorporate as a 501c3, and eschew the professionalization of The Work. Consider finding another way to pay for your life and become a purely volunteer-driven organization. This was the norm back in the '60s. Admittedly, it's much harder to do I'm shook!! This book is, at times, jaw-droppingly good. To those who think that it offers no practical advice for working in and around the nonprofit-industrial complex: you are wrong. Here is a list of practical suggestions straight from the text: - Don't incorporate as a 501c3, and eschew the professionalization of The Work. Consider finding another way to pay for your life and become a purely volunteer-driven organization. This was the norm back in the '60s. Admittedly, it's much harder to do now. - Many of these essays are written by folks whose 501c3s are 40%, 50%, or even near 100% member-funded. Consider asking your people for a small donation to when they attend workshops, read curricula, participate in raffles, etc. The amount of money that can be raised from the grassroots varies by organization, but the key question is: if your grant money disappeared tomorrow, would your organization be able to survive? - To fight the encroachment of corporate methods, carve out time to reflect with your team about how your organizational process aligns with your political analysis, and how your actions increase peoples' ability to be contentious. - Accountability is more complex than who funds you. How have you built other methods of accountability to your constituents into your organizational model? - Learning and reading about the nonprofit industrial complex is necessary (but not sufficient) to doing truly challenging work. Much of what's in this book is difficult for people who profit from the social change industry to hear. For me, what is most difficult to hear is: - There is a tradeoff between being right and not having to fight the powers that be every single step of the way. You can make that tradeoff and still do good work. Finding the acceptable level of tradeoff is not the difficult part. What's difficult is acknowledging, every single day, that you are definitely kind of wrong. - Activism is not for people interested in building a career, i.e., holding a series of positions of ever-increasing power. In fact, careerism and credentialing is an obstacle to building the kind of team that can do The Work. In light of how class power is entrenched by grant-making institutions, we can see that organizations run by the professional-managerial class are highly unlikely to empower the disempowered. The implication is that people like me, who had nice childhoods and went to fancy schools, must sacrifice more than leisure time or future wages to do The Work. Does the power of the disempowered require you to become downwardly mobile? (Surprise: good allyship is hard!)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zanna

    I am just going to point everyone to Tinea's review which says everything I could think of and more, much better than I could say it. I am just going to point everyone to Tinea's review which says everything I could think of and more, much better than I could say it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eric Wellers

    Only partially through because I forgot to pick it up from the library. Currently through part 1 of 3 as of 3/1/2021 and will re-request for checkout. One of those books where I had to read the Preface and the Forward and the Introduction in order to make sure I understood the thesis that unites the collected essays. It's a very interesting and scathing critique of private funds and philanthropy as a pacifier of mass-organized demands for change. I recommend reading with Wikipedia close by in case Only partially through because I forgot to pick it up from the library. Currently through part 1 of 3 as of 3/1/2021 and will re-request for checkout. One of those books where I had to read the Preface and the Forward and the Introduction in order to make sure I understood the thesis that unites the collected essays. It's a very interesting and scathing critique of private funds and philanthropy as a pacifier of mass-organized demands for change. I recommend reading with Wikipedia close by in case you want to get a quick overview of the multiple historical episodes this book alludes to.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael Whitlow

    So most of what I have to say is negative, but I do rate this as 2 stars, not 1, because there is some useful information and good points made. In particular I think several authors make excellent arguments about the ways in which non-profits serve elite interests (Sarah Kendzior's "View from Flyover Country" is also a great work in exploring this). My problems with this book are as follows, in no particular order: Although it is an anthology of chapters/papers by individual writers, I've still ne So most of what I have to say is negative, but I do rate this as 2 stars, not 1, because there is some useful information and good points made. In particular I think several authors make excellent arguments about the ways in which non-profits serve elite interests (Sarah Kendzior's "View from Flyover Country" is also a great work in exploring this). My problems with this book are as follows, in no particular order: Although it is an anthology of chapters/papers by individual writers, I've still never seen an anthology this repetitive. There isn't a strong editorial hand in guiding the way the contributors interact or serve a narrative. What ends up happening then is every single chapter includes a section on "how did we get here/what's the problem with the current system". This is important information, but a good editor would have assigned out this role, fronted related papers, and trimmed down the later papers on this subject so that you move from the foundational critique into the needed changes and onwards into concrete suggestions for how to make things better. This never happens. You end up with a significant portion of every entry retreading the same ground, saying nothing new. And this leads into my next criticism: There is little in the way of actionable suggestions. On an individual level, no one needs to have a ready made solution in order to point out flaws with the current system. But when you have two dozen contributors, it seems odd that almost no one has any real ideas on how to move forward. It ends up just sounding like an echo chamber venting their spleen. The only real notable exception is Paula Rojas discussing how movement organizations can utilize NGOs for assistance like tech support or supplies, but by not incorporating themselves or making the non-profit's leadership part of their cause, they don't allow the NGOs (and their elite executives) to shape or control the movement's actions. The NGO is accountable to the movement, not vice versa. But that this stands out as an almost singular example just shows the dearth of other actionable ideas. Many of the criticisms by the authors also veer into accelerationism. Some of their critiques of non-profits, that a focus on charity and services may serve to blunt developing ideas or activism, reminds me of Susan Sarandon's insistence in 2016 that Trump was preferable to Hillary because he would make things so bad people would have to revolt came from a stance that privileged her ideology and utopian vision over the human cost of the people that would actually do the suffering. And the idea that non-profits ameliorating the worst excesses of the status quo only serves to entrench the status quo and prevent radical or revolutionary thought strikes me as a similar call to ignore the actual human costs of pushing only radical responses.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This is a pretty wonderful collection of essays, put together by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, covering the rise of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex and it's vampiric and co-opting effects on radical movements for social change. Some of the essays are more compelling than others, but I particularly found the historical background of the NPIC undercutting and distorting radical movements of the last 25 years revelatory. Plus the case-studies of groups that went for the 501(c)3 tax sta This is a pretty wonderful collection of essays, put together by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, covering the rise of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex and it's vampiric and co-opting effects on radical movements for social change. Some of the essays are more compelling than others, but I particularly found the historical background of the NPIC undercutting and distorting radical movements of the last 25 years revelatory. Plus the case-studies of groups that went for the 501(c)3 tax status and got the foundation grants, only to have it delegitimize and undermine their organizing, were extremely worth reading. Why does that happen, you ask? Why does foundation funding have to liberalize and professionalize our organizations? Can't we sneak around the funders' requirements and strings? There are a wide variety of empirical as well as theoretical reasons put forth in this volume to explain why an organization dependent on grants for its existence will become co-opted into serving the interests of capitalism and government, not their grassroots constituencies, so I'll leave it to you to read the book to learn more. What's the alternative? Grassroots fundraising! Membership dues, selling t-shirts and baked goods, collecting for services like trainings, and good old-fashioned donation drives! To be free to craft our own (radical) agenda we need to be self-sustained. Read it!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Polly Trout

    This book is great! It is a collection of essays and some of them are fabulous. My favorite was an essay by Paul Kivel called "Social Service or Social Change?" which you can read online here: http://paulkivel.com/articles/socials... There is also a really exciting essay by Alisa Bierra of Seattle's own Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) called "Pursuing a Radical Antiviolence Agenda Inside/Outside a Non-Profit Structure" that advocates a peer based, grassroots, horizontal style of communit This book is great! It is a collection of essays and some of them are fabulous. My favorite was an essay by Paul Kivel called "Social Service or Social Change?" which you can read online here: http://paulkivel.com/articles/socials... There is also a really exciting essay by Alisa Bierra of Seattle's own Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) called "Pursuing a Radical Antiviolence Agenda Inside/Outside a Non-Profit Structure" that advocates a peer based, grassroots, horizontal style of community building, as opposed to a conservative, hierarchical model. Here's a great quote from that: "We do not believe that there are "healed" survivors that are allowed to work in antiviolence organizations and "unhealed" survivors that must be clients within those organizations. We understand the process or surviving as just that -- a process. Therefore, we understand ourselves as building communities of struggle with survivors that connect with CARA through our programs, events, and campaigns. When survivors access CARA for support, we see them less as clients and more as potential comrades in a struggle for social justice. CARA works to actualize a vision in which we understand ourselves as equally vulnerable to being abused, as equally valuable to the survivors we work with, and, potentially, as equal participants in a movement for justice and a world free from violence and oppression."

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jude

    one of my absolute favorites; i reference it often. pretty much everything Incite! does is magic.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Manon

    This should be required reading for any social justice advocates working within the nonprofit sector in the US

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I really wish that I had read this 4-5 years ago--much, much earlier in my nonprofit "career." It's given me a lot to ponder in regards to my questions about what happened to the social justice movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the current state of mass movements in the United States. "It is critical that social justice organizations abandon any notion that foundations are not established for a donor's private gain...Unlike the government, which is accountable to the public through various ch I really wish that I had read this 4-5 years ago--much, much earlier in my nonprofit "career." It's given me a lot to ponder in regards to my questions about what happened to the social justice movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the current state of mass movements in the United States. "It is critical that social justice organizations abandon any notion that foundations are not established for a donor's private gain...Unlike the government, which is accountable to the public through various channels (slow as they might be and unrealistic as they may seem....), most private foundations are governed by a handful of very wealthy people who are affiliated with the foundation by family or business ties" (p. 64). "What has been called 'grassroots fundraising training' still does not challenge the fundamental problem of capitalist exploitation...Critical to the success of the white Left's agenda to protect white wealth is the strategic use of people of color as endorsers of these tactics...People-of-color organizations who adopt these tactics are diverted from the work of organizing around global reparations and the just transfer of resources to people of color around the world" (p. 85-86). "But it remained a significant challenge to balance the organizing work, foundation fundraising, and the work of building a non-profit. This 'balance' required us to move back and forth between two worlds--and between two areas of work demanding two very different sets of skills. It was always clear which of the two drained us more and seemed more distant from the very purpose for which we had all come into organizing--leaving us to question if the most effective and strategic grassroots organizing can take place in a 501(c)(3) model" (p. 94). "Through funding and non-profitization, the movement was called in to sleep with the enemy, the US state, the central organizer of violence against women in the world...Through policy, ideology, and the NPIC, the state began to break into pieces the radical social justice agenda of the movement against violence against women. First, by prohibiting non-profits from engaging in "politics," it separated interpersonal violence against women from state-based, economic, and institutional violence against women. This individualization of violence excluded the experiences of women of color surviving the multiple forms of state violence. Then the state splintered anti-sexual assault work from the movement to end domestic violence, while certain state-based forms of sexual assault were kept out of the discourse of violence against women (for example, militarized and prison sexual assaults, militarized border rapes, and sterilization and other population control practices)...Academic research, under attack by 'academic capitalism' and the extension of privatization to academia, has become increasingly dependent on federal and foundation funding. This funding develops a problematic allegiance to the state and foundation capital and steers the production of knowledge toward those ends" (p. 117-118). "In effect, the imposition of US models of intervention in violence against women dismisses the context of globalization and imperialism, falsely casting the United States as interested in the safety and well-being of women in the Global South. Further, this imposition frames US antiviolence models as superior to all others, jeopardizing the practices, traditions, and epistemologies of indigenous women and communities in the Global South" (p. 123-125). "The ruling class co-opts leaders from our communities by providing them with jobs in non-profits and government agencies, hence realigning their interests (i.e., maintaining their jobs) with maintaining the system...The existence of these jobs serves to convince people that tremendous inequalities of wealth are natural and inevitable. Institutionalizing soup kitchens leads people to expect that inevitably there will be people without enough to eat; establishing permanent homeless shelters leads people to think that it is normal for there not to be enough affordable housing" (p. 139-140). "Whether we are domestic violence workers or other types of workers in the non-profit industrial complex, even with the best of intentions, it is easy to be co-opted by a ruling class agenda. The buffer-zone strategy of the ruling class works smoothly, so smoothly that many of us don't notice that we are encouraged to feel good about helping a small number of individuals get ahead, while large numbers of people remain exploited, abused, and disenfranchised. It works so smoothly that we often don't notice that we have shifted from helping people get together to helping ourselves and our families get ahead. Some of us have stopped imagining that we can end domestic violence and have, instead, built ourselves niches in the edifice of social services for battered women or for batterers. The only way to avoid settling into patterns that perpetuate ruling-class dominance is through accountability to grassroots community struggles led by people at the bottom of the pyramid" (p. 144). "What has happened to the great civil rights and Black power movements of the 1960s and 1970s? Where are the mass movements of today within this country? The short answer--they got funded. While it may be overly simplistic to say so, it is important to recognize how limited social justice groups and organizations have become as they've been incorporated into the non-profit model" (p. 186). "I have known some widely respected organizers in Latin America who were part of land occupations and settlements involving thousands of people. Clearly, activists in the United States could learn so much from these movement builders, particularly those that are now in this country. Instead, their work and efforts have been marginalized because many are not fluent in English or formally educated; nor are they 'executive directors' with professionalized organizer skills. Meanwhile, the [non-profit industrial complex] has cultivated an 'elite class' of non-profit managers skilled at fundraising and formally educated, but often not deeply connected to the communities they are working with, even as people of color. Many of these managers/directors know a lot less about political history, analysis, and movement building that some autodidacta (self-taught/organic) political organizers/intellectuals who don't stand a chance at getting a non-profit job" (p. 206).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amy Layton

    This was so intriguing.  I know that there's a lot I don't know about in this world, but I didn't realize just how little I knew about non-profit organizations.  As with any other grant-writing institutions, they must lay out exactly what they want to request, and why.  However, not many money-granting institutions are going to just give money away to the most radical and anti-establishment organizations.  So in that way--they must scale back, be more centrist in their activism.  Which...what do This was so intriguing.  I know that there's a lot I don't know about in this world, but I didn't realize just how little I knew about non-profit organizations.  As with any other grant-writing institutions, they must lay out exactly what they want to request, and why.  However, not many money-granting institutions are going to just give money away to the most radical and anti-establishment organizations.  So in that way--they must scale back, be more centrist in their activism.  Which...what does that really do, anyways?  In that way, they can only affect others in small ways.   Additionally, there's a chapter in here on philanthropy, which is in itself hugely problematic when it comes to non-profits.  Philanthropy for the arts?  Sure!  Awesome!  Philanthropy for activism and humans?  That's a little....weird, to say the least.  With that, there comes an expectation where non-profit organizations must fit a certain mold in order to be acceptable, to have others want to give money to them.   Overall, this is such a necessary book that critiques the ways in which non-profit organizations are forced to dial back and become more acceptable in the eyes of the money-holders.  It's perfect for today's climate, and for better understanding how lobbying and grants and philanthropy work in regards to activism. Review cross-listed here!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mustafa Hamdy

    "What CORE and the cultural nationalists seek is not an end to oppression, but the transfer of the oppressive apparatus into their own hands. They call themselves nationalists and exploit the legitimate nationalist feelings of black people in order to advance their own interests as a class." I remember Gil Scott-Heron poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" which was based upon a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the United States. Like the song but enmeshed with the con "What CORE and the cultural nationalists seek is not an end to oppression, but the transfer of the oppressive apparatus into their own hands. They call themselves nationalists and exploit the legitimate nationalist feelings of black people in order to advance their own interests as a class." I remember Gil Scott-Heron poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" which was based upon a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the United States. Like the song but enmeshed with the contemporary Post-COINTELPRO era, It examines the social movements under Non-Profit model. With 501(c)(3) tax-exempt designation classic radical change movements were marginalized and excluded, to get the fund you need to fulfill the trends of the donors. It marks the beginning of a new era, where assassinations and incarcerations are no longer in the lexicon of control, today control is perpetuated through funding!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Breana

    Great, thought-provoking compendium of essays – some better than others. I appreciated how the authors were committed to giving an honest appraisal to the limits and challenges of foundation funding, while still offering nuance to the ways NGOs may relate to social justice movements now that they're here. I would have appreciated the inclusion of some broader political economic analysis i.e. the changing role of unions and work, because I was not totally satisfied with the conclusions of many of Great, thought-provoking compendium of essays – some better than others. I appreciated how the authors were committed to giving an honest appraisal to the limits and challenges of foundation funding, while still offering nuance to the ways NGOs may relate to social justice movements now that they're here. I would have appreciated the inclusion of some broader political economic analysis i.e. the changing role of unions and work, because I was not totally satisfied with the conclusions of many of the authors that we should simply continue to work in a grassroots, un(der)funded fashion. But all in all a very handy book for any activist trying to grapple with what the hell is happening to social movements in this neoliberal age.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Unny

    This is great reading for anybody involved in social change! They ask so many hard questions about how our movements are prioritized and who decides. For folks who are running and working for nonprofits, seeing the limitations of our current theories of change helps us think outside of our organizations and the nonprofit industrial complex. This helps liberates us from the narrow constraints of our day-to-day work. We can dream bigger, and help even our funders and most ardent supporters conside This is great reading for anybody involved in social change! They ask so many hard questions about how our movements are prioritized and who decides. For folks who are running and working for nonprofits, seeing the limitations of our current theories of change helps us think outside of our organizations and the nonprofit industrial complex. This helps liberates us from the narrow constraints of our day-to-day work. We can dream bigger, and help even our funders and most ardent supporters consider and engage with powerful ways of changing the world that goes far beyond the fundable.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    "When temporary shelter becomes a substitute for permanent housing, emergency food a substitute for a decent job, tutoring a substitute for adequate public schools, and free clinics a substitute for universal health care, we have shifted our attention from the redistribution of wealth to the temporary provision of social services to keep people alive. The focus on the individual achievements of a few can distract us from looking at why there is not enough affordable housing, educational opportun "When temporary shelter becomes a substitute for permanent housing, emergency food a substitute for a decent job, tutoring a substitute for adequate public schools, and free clinics a substitute for universal health care, we have shifted our attention from the redistribution of wealth to the temporary provision of social services to keep people alive. The focus on the individual achievements of a few can distract us from looking at why there is not enough affordable housing, educational opportunities, and jobs for everyone."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ro

    A nice collection of essays analyzing and critiquing the non-profit industry and their outsize role in left-wing social movements. The book is definitely targeted toward people who are activists and organizers and non-profit workers, and are generally in left-wing activist subcultures. While the arguments are all in the realm of radical politics and anti-capitalism, there are some interesting divergences; some essays argue for reforming the non-profit industry, while others argue for complete wi A nice collection of essays analyzing and critiquing the non-profit industry and their outsize role in left-wing social movements. The book is definitely targeted toward people who are activists and organizers and non-profit workers, and are generally in left-wing activist subcultures. While the arguments are all in the realm of radical politics and anti-capitalism, there are some interesting divergences; some essays argue for reforming the non-profit industry, while others argue for complete withdrawal. There is a mix of different types of essays, ranging from historical and economic analysis to more personal stories and experiences; however the essays can start to feel repetitive as you get deeper into the collection.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Georgia

    Truly thought provoking and a call to action. Very readable, even as it can feel like a personal attack (kidding, but not really) to those of us that work at a non profit. Complacency can not be our future.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sara Starr

    Incredibly poignant and eye-opening book that I wish I had took upon myself to read earlier! Very important for anyone in or considering going into non-profit or movement based work, providing a critical lens through which to view the work, the processes to get to the work, and the ways in which funds and donors become inextricable from the work itself. Really valuable.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mollie Meyer

    Insightful and convicting wisdom shared by local POC who actually give a shit about the world.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emily Satifka

    THIS BOOK IS AMAZING! Every single essay both affirmed and transformed my beliefs. I can’t help but bring this book up in conversations.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kate B

    Required reading for anyone who works in nonprofits or donates to them.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    You are meant to remember the Audre Lorde quote about the master’s tools never dismantling the master’s house. If that is the case, then the master’s tax-avoiding slush fund is never going to fund the revolution. Much more likely, it will seek to do the exact opposite. The problem is that organisations that seek to bring about fundamental change in society – tackling problems of sexual violence, climate change, the school-to-prison pipeline, and so on, struggle to believe that they wouldn’t be be You are meant to remember the Audre Lorde quote about the master’s tools never dismantling the master’s house. If that is the case, then the master’s tax-avoiding slush fund is never going to fund the revolution. Much more likely, it will seek to do the exact opposite. The problem is that organisations that seek to bring about fundamental change in society – tackling problems of sexual violence, climate change, the school-to-prison pipeline, and so on, struggle to believe that they wouldn’t be better off with more money. This is hardly an insane assumption. Money allows so many things – as Marx said of money: “Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money.” The lack of power of non-government organisations, too, is nullified by money. Pascal’s wager is often criticised by atheists. It runs a bit like this – if there is no god and you die and find that there is no god, well, you have lost nothing and gained nothing. But if there is a god and you spent your life saying there wasn’t one, he’s probably going to be annoyed with you and punish you for all eternity – and so you will have lost quite a lot. So, you might as well pretend to believe in god. The bit people generally miss in this is the pretending bit. You see, Pascal was much more intelligent than many of the atheists who criticise him. He knew that pretending to be something is the first step towards becoming that thing. How we behave impacts who we are. This book repeatedly stresses this idea – that spending lots of time chasing grant money involves non-government organisations in work that has nothing to do with why they were set up in the first place – and eventually these organisations become grant seekers as their primary objective and social organisations as an afterthought. The atheist who becomes religious because they think to themselves what harm can pretending to pray really do? To get a fuller idea of the arguments that run through this book let’s start with why foundations exist in the first place. Essentially, they achieve two things for the vastly wealthy: they reduce their tax burden, and they act as a propaganda tool. There are quite a few books that focus upon these issues in relation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – I’ve reviewed them elsewhere. This book also points to the problems associated with this foundation, not least its efforts in protecting intellectual property rights which, in turn, are likely to cause at least as much damage to the developing world as whatever positive efforts the foundation supports. A number of chapters here discuss how foundation money is used to support organisations that are almost exclusively associated with the rich. That is, by setting up a charity, the rich person reduces the amount of money that they pay into the common pool of money that could otherwise be used to address the gross inequities that exist in society. The old saying that taxes are the fees we pay to live in a democracy is worth remembering here. Instead, this money is directed by the very wealthy towards things they are particularly fond of: the opera, elite universities, pet projects like flying to Mars and so on. Since they would otherwise have been required to pay tax on this money, the wealthy effectively decide how society will spend its tax dollars – and as I said, this is often in ways that bring benefits purely to the already wealthy. As is explained in depth here, this accounts for the vast majority of foundation spending. The other issue is how much money the foundations actually spend from their total pool of money. This is often a vanishingly small amount, and it is argued that such small amounts of spending are necessary to ensure the financial viability of the foundation in the first place. Let’s have a quick story, one that is not in the book, but that illustrates the problem that haunts this entire book. Once upon a time Bill Gates decided that small schools provided a much better quality of education than large schools. Gates invests heavily in the US education system – and so he directed lots of money toward supporting his pet theory about small schools – schools with limited numbers of students. But his belief in the effectiveness of small schools was a function of him not understanding statistics very well. If you have a large school, its results are likely to hover somewhere around the average – that is, after all, what an average is. But in a small school, if a couple of particularly well-educated families decide to send their kids to that school, well, the school’s results are likely to go up rather dramatically. Actually, the opposite is also true – a couple of dysfunctional families might not impact a large school’s results, but could trash those of a small school. That is, small schools were disproportionately found at both the top and the bottom of the variation – and this is hardly surprising, either. But Bill wasn’t done. About half-way his experiment to show how brilliant he was in spotting a trend that didn’t exist, and after pouring truckloads of money into small schools, someone must have explained to him his mistake – so he did what any reasonable billionaire would do – he pulled his money out of those schools and put it into his next random great big idea based on no evidence at all. And this had the effect of smashing the little schools he had promised to fund because, well, they had already banked on having that money and now they were left high and dry. Yep, it is possible to do opposite things and be wrong both times. Who’d have thought. It isn’t merely the ill-informed guesswork of billionaires that is the problem here – that’s just the most obvious of the problems. It is also that billionaires have made their billions from the way the world is currently structured and so they can see no reason at all why that system should be changed. In fact, this book is overflowing with examples of where foundations have acted in ways that shift the focus of progressive movements so that they align with the values of capitalism. This is particularly the case in the chapters that look back at how foundations helped rechannel the direction of the civil rights movement in the US towards organisations focused on developing a Black middle-class. And this is something not terribly different from the obsession some feminist organisations have with needing many more female CEOs. A lot of this book draws on the work of Pablo Freire. That is, rather than people coming into poor or disadvantaged communities as saviours, those working in and with those communities need to do so by listening to and by understanding the life situations of the people they are working with. They need to help the people they are seeking to assist to build community, rather than assume that they can come in and ‘fix’ things ‘for’ those in these communities. An author in one of the chapters quotes Angela Davis that it is too often assumed that communities of the poor or dispossessed already exist as communities, and that all that is necessary is to provide them with a head. That the communities exist ‘in themselves’ but not yet ‘for themselves’. However, this assumes that what is lacking from the communities is a saviour – whereas, what might be missing is, in fact, a sense of community and that actions that help to build community are therefore perhaps the most revolutionary of all. I’ve barely touched on the themes discussed in this book. While it is getting a bit old now, it has lost none of its power.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

    this collection took me exactly 4 months to read and it was extremely worth it

  29. 5 out of 5

    Allee

    Phew! This book took me so long to read because I felt it was so important that I needed to give it my undivided attention... so it sat on my bedside table for about 5 months before I decided I just needed to get to it. Anyway. It's definitely a book that has pushed me to think differently about non-profits and how they're funded. I will let the authors down by not quitting my job tomorrow to work as a volunteer for a radical collective, but, baby steps. I'm still not sure how to have a day job Phew! This book took me so long to read because I felt it was so important that I needed to give it my undivided attention... so it sat on my bedside table for about 5 months before I decided I just needed to get to it. Anyway. It's definitely a book that has pushed me to think differently about non-profits and how they're funded. I will let the authors down by not quitting my job tomorrow to work as a volunteer for a radical collective, but, baby steps. I'm still not sure how to have a day job and pay rent and make the world a better place, if all of those things can't be done just by working at a non-profit, but I'll figure it out as I go. After reading it, the premise seems obvious. How can good work be funded by the government, a sometimes violent agent of oppression (which is something I will have to chew on more), or by foundations, who are never going to fund projects that would fundamentally alter the situation that led them to be pools of wealth in the first place? And these entities put such restrictive and narrow confines on their funding while also demanding a high degree of reporting and monitoring etc that they seriously distort and distract from what people are trying to do. Maybe the book registered because this is my day job right now, rigid enforcement of a ridiculously and unnecessarily complex grant, and I feel like I'm doing more harm than good and am placing an undue burden on program staff. But hey, I'm just the middle man, carrying out the government's orders. If you work in the good works scene and are trying to minimize harm or achieve radical social justice goals, try this book out. I'm not saying it's perfect and that I don't have any issues with any of its claims or style or substance (sometimes it seemed to gloss over points that seemed obvious to itself, but maybe not to all readers), but it's still at least a good internal dialogue starter.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn Woagh

    There were some useful things to know from reading this book, including a clarity history on the purpose of foundations. But much of it was repetitive, overly-academic, and overcomplicated, which detracted from the effectiveness of suggestions on how to organize beyond the npic. The fact that the title states this is about being beyond the npic, I find some difficulty in giving it credit since only a couple essays toward the end actually mentioned in passing how to survive without foundations. Mo There were some useful things to know from reading this book, including a clarity history on the purpose of foundations. But much of it was repetitive, overly-academic, and overcomplicated, which detracted from the effectiveness of suggestions on how to organize beyond the npic. The fact that the title states this is about being beyond the npic, I find some difficulty in giving it credit since only a couple essays toward the end actually mentioned in passing how to survive without foundations. Most of everything else was a reiteration or almost-literal quoting of the introduction. Furthermore, there is a consistent belief among this book that offering services to oppressed persons takes second priority after lobbying, think tanks, and other 'actual revolution' by their standard. The fact is that services can be a means to mobilizing the populace against the very system which necessitates nonprofit services, something only one contributor partially agreed with. Without community-building services, there will instead simply be isolating dependence on existing welfare services funded by governing profiteers.

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