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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,398 Ratings  ·  144 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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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
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.
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
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 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
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
É O'Conghaile
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.
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
one of my absolute favorites; i reference it often. pretty much everything Incite! does is magic.
Ming Wong
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ming by:
Changed the way I think about my work. Contextualizes everything.
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
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
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.
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: policy
Finally found a copy of this over the weekend. Have wanted to read it for a while - to the extent that I've been citing the title. So damn catchy.

P.45 "What also distinguishes the expansion of social-service agencies is that increasingly their role is to take responsibility for persons who are in the throes of abandonment.."
P.46 " the shadow state, then, is real but without specific political clout, forbidden by law to advocate for systemic change, and bound by public rules and non-profit chart
jessi lee
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who think about radical social change alot
This is a skinny book, but each article is alot to think about.
I've been excited about the discussions that incite! is raising around the idea of the non-profit industrial complex. every social change organization that i've been involved with has had pain and conflict and compromises and inability to surface conflict around money/funding issues. so i think i place alot of unfair expectations on this book--i want answers. i want to be effective & take care of relationships & survive in c
The first few articles in this book were SO jargony. Like this:
"I am especially concerned with how the political assimilation of the non-profit sector into the progressive dreams of a "democratic" global civil society (the broad premise of the liberal-progressive antiglobalization movement) already presumes (and therefore fortifies) existing structures of social liquidation, including biological and social death." (p. 22)

Um, what?

The articles did get better after the first few. Standouts:

Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book, and it's already changed my life. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded took me to all the most important places, and sent me home with more knowledge than I can carry. I'll definitely need to revisit this book several times over, before I fully absorb all of it -- but that's what made it so amazing! Between the servings of history and transformative strategies, not to mention list upon list of all the questions I need to ask myself, this book has given me tons to think ab ...more
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology, politics
This book provides an important and very necessary critique of the current state of the non-profit industrial complex. Activists from a variety of current and former non-profit organizations discuss the difficulties social activists face in attempting to keep their organizations afloat while resisting the temptations of professionalizing and bending to funders' dictates. Other activists discuss the differences between social service organizations and social justice/change organizations and how a ...more
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: activists, organizers, academics, non profit workers, social service providers
I've read almost all of the entries in this anthology so I am declaring it read! I would like to revisit this book again to finish the unread pieces.

This book is excellent. A definite must read for anyone who works in or supports the nonprofit industrial complex, and especially those who see nonprofits as a solution to the destruction caused by global capitalism (a viewpoint that the book dismantles!).

The book includes a real diversity of voices on this topic and examines it from different angle
Sep 07, 2008 rated it liked it
A book I did not realize was so impactful, but this text is pretty well known among the non-profit types. As a new non-profit worker, I am challenged by the text's premise: how the heirarchization and corporatization of the non-profit sector may undermine the radical social transformation it is predicated upon. I am not sure all non-profits are dedicated to this violent social revolutionary agenda, however, and wonder about "moderate" non-profits that want to work with a broad spectrum of partne ...more
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ux
Excellent excellent book. Before reading this, I'd never really known what Foundations were or what they did most of the time. Now I do.. turns out most of them are up to no good!

As someone who has been wanting to work for non-profits for a while and lately wanting to start my own non-profits, this book has been a very important eye-opener for what it means to have different funding sources and organizational structures - what it means to the work you're trying to accomplish. If I ever gain acce
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This anthology discusses the problems with 501(c)3 nonprofits and the reliance on foundation money. Can groups that rely on capitalist loot for their funding ever truly challenge the system?
The first time I read The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, I was working within the 501(c)3 system, and this book helped me find words for the frustration I was feeling (such as having to make projects more palatable to donors by including pictures of starving - but cute - children), and understanding why the
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
A valuable collection of essays, tackling an important topic - the influence on political organizing exerted by nonprofit funding organizations, usually set up to protect the wealth of the wealthiest from taxation - from a variety of perspectives. As often happens, the pieces are more effective at describing where we are and how we got there - the history of liberal thinktanks, the evolution of tax policy, and plenty of infuriating examples of explicit and (more perniciously) implicit interferen ...more
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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
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