Robert Egger has a moving and insightful op-ed in the current edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Robert understands the potential political power of the Third Sector better than anyone I know. His V3 Campaign and Nonprofit Primary Project have be nonpartisan efforts at getting politicians to recognize the power and potential of the Third Sector. Robert’s someone to watch.
…In 2008, as we reflect on this generation’s genuine efforts, and we look toward this year’s presidential election, it is time to begin anew, to honor amazing advances and acknowledge deeply rooted flaws, and then rededicate ourselves to repositioning nonprofit organizations as an undeniable force in a new American century.
First of all, everybody in the nonprofit world must commit to working together to make our collective voice heard in every community. We must then use that voice to enter the political dialogue, not with the intention of becoming another lobbying group, but to elevate the role of nonprofit organizations so we can fundamentally change the rules of the game. Only then will we be able to truly influence the democratic decision-making process taking place in every city, every state, and, this year, at the presidential level.
Second, nonprofit groups must free themselves from the morass of meaningless metrics and strive for intellectual independence. For too long we have measured our value by how many children we have fed, how many houses we have built, or how many whales we have saved, instead of calculating and then championing the economic impact of productive citizens, strong communities, and a healthy environment that result directly from the work of nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit groups must embrace their role in the American economy, and actively challenge this nation to fully explore the power and potential in this vastly underutilized resource…
Rightly so, this new generation looks to redefine the entire equation, up to and including, as bold as it might sound, capitalism itself. Like America’s historic business pioneers, this new generation sees boundless opportunities when they add the monetary wealth of nonprofit organizations to our equally valuable nonfinancial assets. This generation will not be content to use these resources to prolong the endless cycle of sheltering, feeding, and clothing the poor.
Rather, its members seek to work, as well as to employ, loan, and invest, in ways that decrease need and create empowered citizens. Instead of attempting to redistribute wealth through government policies, they want the way they spend their money every day to become their philanthropy, creating, if you will, a “buy-cott” that rewards businesses that decrease the need for charity by paying good wages, providing health care, giving money to community causes, or treating the environment with care.
The dreams of the founders of the modern nonprofit world and its emerging leaders are not so far apart, but their methods must be.
I encourage you to read the entire article here.
You can also catch the podcast I did with Robert a while ago.