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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,630 ratings  ·  159 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 257 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by South End Press (first published March 1st 2007)
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 ·  1,630 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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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. ...more
Paul Gordon
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: non-profit employees
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
Nov 09, 2007 added it
Recommends it for: maybe people who haven't already thought of this stuff
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-
May 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those trying to support themselves and dismantle the system
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 ...more
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: native, philosophy
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.
Aug 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Polly Trout
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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:

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
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
one of my absolute favorites; i reference it often. pretty much everything Incite! does is magic.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: _non-fiction_
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
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Evelyn Woagh
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
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.

J.S. McLean
Mar 13, 2011 rated it liked it
This book was hard to take at times, and at others it was inspiring and insightful. Many different voices and experiences reflecting on the change and development in the world of non-profits, and the overwhelming chorus wasn't necessarily one I wanted to hear: currently there is little place for sustainable, innovative social activism within the non-profit community as it stands, due to the reluctance of funders to endorse "radical" agendas. This is a light-weight summation of some heavy discuss ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it liked it
"Nonprofits were meant to provide alternative spaces for political organizing. But for generations who have known only the NPIC as a site of organizing, it’s not a place to put their politics to practice: it is their politics. Those wondering about how to organize in what Gilmore calls “the shadow of the shadow state” can only ask themselves: “Should I stay or should I go?”" Read more of my review here:
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
Everyone who works for a nonprofit or for any kind of social change org needs to read this. It reflects so many of my experiences and frustrations. And it puts the system together in a way that we all need to be conscious of.
Ming Wong
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ming by:
Changed the way I think about my work. Contextualizes everything.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading for any social justice advocates working within the nonprofit sector in the US
Julia Deng
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It's mad helpful to have such richly articulated ideas in print, plus good best practice case studies written by the organizers instead of academics alone. An article that I particularly enjoyed was Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo's "We Were Never Meant to Survive," which drew parallels to the Zapatista mvmt.

A selection of things I'm chewing on-

"Many Americans are seduced by the idea that piecemeal voluntary efforts can somehow replace a systematic public approach to eliminating poverty. But this reas
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a person who has racked up years of professional experience in the nonprofit/NGO world, this book is essential reading for anyone with a critical eye in this field. A lot of what the essays discuss are issues that nonprofit workers experience on one level or another (the constant scarcity, the need for self-preservation above all else, the conflicts around grant and government rules, the professionalization of mutual aid and community building), but may have not had the opportunity to lay it ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent collection of essays that challenge what the mainstream non-profit activist world understands about the relationship between their work and their sources of funding. Each essay approaches this topic from a different angle, amplifying their arguments by drawing on the experiences of different activist groups from the 70s onward. The essays about antiviolence were the ones that interested me the most and I was not disappointed! (well except disappointed in the role foundations have pl ...more
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great resource. My advice to readers is to know that the first essay is INTENSELY academic--very good, and interesting, but perhaps inaccessible or at least *difficult* to get through (though worth it). Other essays in the book are more accessible. It's pretty thorough and is a good resource for activists. I am a white anti-racist activist and this book is a helpful lens into seeing how organizations whose stated purpose is to create social change can actually continue to uphold w ...more
Joy Messinger
[4 stars] My second reading of this important collection of essays detailing the harm that philanthropy perpetuates in social movements. The new intro and foreword added much needed nuance and space to the previous edition, and complicated the nonprofit industrial complex within capitalism. Many of the essays are still uber academic, and starting with Dylan Rodriguez’ piece is a surefire way to discourage readers from getting any further if they can’t push through the dense writing. I recommend ...more
This book blew my mind. If you work in the nonprofit sector, it's a must read.

Written by a group of activists in 2007, it feels just as relevant today. It covers history of the rise of institutionalized nonprofits, the government's role in promoting nonprofits to quell social uprisings, and how government funding changes effectiveness.

The book has a series of essays covering various topics. I recommend reading with someone so you can discuss it. It was hard to read alone!
James Huynh
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent choice for if you are currently mired in the nonprofit industrial complex or are considering entering this very complicated industry. It made me reflect a lot on how I want to participate in this industry and contextualizing feelings I have felt in the early stages of my career.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory
i loved this book. did what truly radical work should do-- it ignited and expanded my imagination. so grateful for this book forcing us to think beyond the existing paths the US currently espouses towards radical change.
Ruth Feathers
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
The collection is 10 years old at this point. I would like to read an update.
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Mission Statement

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence is a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and their communities through direct action, critical dialogue and grassroots organizing.

Vision Statement

INCITE! is a national, activist organization of radical feminists of color that is mobilizing to end all forms o