The Few, The Proud, The Organized

Non-profits do have the responsibility of representing the interests of their clients. If that means political action, then so be it. But outrage? I think not. That’s the job of the polity. Non-profits lobby, but don’t vote. You and I do.

One of the truths of politics in a democracy is that a small, motivated, organized minority can (and does) exert its will over a large, less motivated, and far less organized majority. Witness the overwhelming support for sensible, common sense gun control, e.g. the ban on assault weapons, and the power exerted by the NRA.
My good friend, Marc Hill, recently wrote, “Non-profits have the responsibility of outrage when government policy creates and exacerbates misery: Charities need to speak up and demand that Congress get Washington’s foreign policy and its financial priorities in order.” Non-profits do have the responsibility of representing the interests of their clients. If that means political action, then so be it. But outrage? I think not. That’s the job of the polity, political parties, PACs, etc. Non-profits lobby, but don’t vote. You and I do.
Non-profit, charitable organizations could exert more political power, but would they? Like their for profit brethren, non-profit organizations compete for a limited amount of charitable money, low interest loans, and grants. These competing interests limit organizing in a fashion most efficient to exerting power in a democracy: building coalitions based on common interest. Competition in many dimensions drives them apart.

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