September 30, 2009

Non-profit or not?

For quite some time, whenever people have asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I have said work for a non-profit. Part of this goal included the desire to start my own non-profit. I was full of ideas about what this non-profit could be doing to change the world.

But my view of non-profits is becoming jaded. I am currently working on forming a non-profit for my internship and am realizing how much paperwork and legal jargon is involved. You need to have boards, forms, and all kinds of stuff. I also just finished reading the book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded. This book takes a look at what they call the "non-profit industrial complex" and how radical change has been stifled because of non-profits.

I do believe that we are at a time that needs radical change. The rich are growing richer while the poor are growing poorer. The environment is groaning under our material-driven, polluted, consumer world. And we have stopped forming relationships with other people and instead form relationships with our tvs, ipods, and computers. Something needs to be done.

Many people believe that non-profits are what can bring about change. But our current non-profit system leaves us with organizations that are bogged down with paperwork, understaffed, always thinking about where to find more funding, focused on charity more than justice, and limited by what they can do so they don't lose their funding.

If I'm going to work for radical change, I'm going to have to give up working within the system. Think outside the box. It is outside the confines of what people have already tried is where change is going to happen.