I recently read through The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. The book challenged a lot of assumptions I had and enlightened me as to how a lot of stuff happens in the nonprofit world. As I challenged my readers not too long ago, it's important to read at least one hard book a year.
The book is a compilation, put together very well by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. Several essays detail their struggle to get funded while staying true to their core convictions and commitments. Essays by their team and a host of others bring to light the very topic that no one talks about much in the nonprofit world: are institutional and corporate funders ultimately hampering the work of nonprofits by the way they fund work? After all, why would a foundation fund something that seeks to disrupt the power structures that allowed the foundation's biggest supporters to amass wealth? Why would a company donate money to a program or organization that could ultimately shed light on its own unjust practices? This books seeks to provide those answers while encouraging its readers to build funding mechanisms that don't rely on power machines.
Here is a small sampling of quotes that I enjoy. Grab your own copy and digest the rest:
A mass movement requires the involvement of millions of people, most of whom cannot get paid. - Andrea Smith
The government is often the object of their [grassroots groups] advocacy and their antagonisms. - Ruth Wilson Gilmore
If people living under the most severe constraints, such as prisoners, can form study groups to learn about the world, then free-world activists have no excuse for ignorance, nor should they rely on funder-designed workshops and training sessions to do what revolutionaries in all times have done on their own. - Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Many Americans are seduced by the idea that piecemeal voluntary efforts can somehow replace a systemic public approach to eliminating poverty. But this reasoning is based on the inherent falsehood that scarcity - rather than inequality - is at the root of these persisting social and economic problems. - Christine E. Ahn
The fact that most private foundations are governed by wealthy white men may partially explain why only 1.9 percent of all grant dollars in 2002 were designated for Black/African Americans; 1.1 percent for Latina/os; 2.9 percent for the disabled; 1 percent for the homeless; 0.1 percent for single parents; and 0.1 percent for gays and lesbians. - Christine E. Ahn
Once you get too structured, your whole scope changes from activism to maintaining an organization and getting paid. - Madonna Thunder Hawk
Social service work addresses the needs of individuals reeling from the personal and devastating impact of institutional systems of exploitation and violence. Social change work challenges the root causes of the exploitation and violence. - Paul Kivel
When temporary shelter becomes a substitute for permanent housing, emergency food a substitute for a decent job, tutoring a substitute for decent 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. - Paul Kivel
In this country, our activism is held hostage to our jobs - we are completely dependent on a salary structure, and many of us spend over half of our staff hours struggling to raise salaries instead of creating real threats and alternatives to the institutional oppression faced by our communities. - Adjoa Florencia Jones de Almeida