Friday, November 18, 2005

The Hierarchy of Non-Profit Work

The popular notion of the conservative right by the left is that they are so much better organized (they are), better funded (somewhat true) and give better strategy (they do).

Now, I can't speak for non-profit work on the right, but I can on the other side. For the past seven years I've been involved in non-profit work toward causes I felt worthy, but one thing has always stuck out like a sore thumb: the organizations were always lacking money.

The bigger names - The NAACP, ACLU... - they have plenty of money. But for the vast majority there is a curious lack of funds. And that has a direct impact on the ability of orgs to move messages out to the masses.

With the NAACP, for example, you can go in to their headquarters and see staff churning away on issues and projects and programs. This is also probably true for smaller non propfits, but there is a crucial difference: The smaller orgs do not pay their staff.

The end result is that the overseers get paid while volunteers do the heavy lifting. Without pay.

This creates an endless cycle of churn, because people get burned out on working for nothing, while the overseers get all the accolades and publicity. And Salaries. And benefits.

It also partially explains why most of these orgs, while perhaps worthwhile in spirit, don't gain any traction in the marketplace of ideas.

That sucks.