Coalescing

A friend suggests a simple but elegant solution to the challenge of making a difference in the company of other people without adding to the proliferation of nonprofits: work with existing nonprofits in coalitions to accomplish specific finite goals.  (N.B. that many contemporary authors would write “tangible” goals but it’s not tangible if you can’t touch it.  End of schoolteacher digression.)  This suggestion set the Nonprofiteer’s mind racing.

Is there a Coalition to Repeal the Hyde Amendment?  If not, there should be–and there will be soon.

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8 Responses to “Coalescing”

  1. verbify Says:

    Yes! There is an active coalition to repeal the Hyde Amendment! Visit their website at http://www.hyde30year.nnaf.org. You can sign the petition and sign up to become part of this fantastic and energetic group of organizations!

  2. Ellen Wadey Says:

    I’m definitely a proponent of “utility groups” as I heard the critic Madhu Dubay call it when she was analyzing the way some sci-fi novels depict society in the future. A group of people get together for a specific purpose — such as learning to read or alleviating hunger — and then dissolve once that purpose has been achieved to go join another utility group that fits their needs/interests. Think of it as human file sharing.

    But I also believe that like the discussion on this site about foundations not needing to remain in business in perpetuity that non-profits don’t need to stay in business in perpetuity either. I wouldn’t be half as skeptical of new non-profits forming if there was a stated shelf life for their project and not the stigma of “failure” once an organization’s mission no longer passes the smell test. If a group of young actors want to get together to form a flegling theater company, crank out a couple years of solid performances and then dissolve, I’m good with that. And, if they can keep it fresh and/or excellent no matter how old they are, I’m good with that too. It’s when the companies are ten years old and competing with a bunch of other ten year old theater companies who started out the same way, and they are doing basically the same thing competing for the same audience and the same dollars that I start to wonder why the 501(c)3 landscape needs the burden. (I’m just using theater as an example).

    • Nonprofiteer Says:

      Absolutely–perpetuity is not a purpose. But any organization will develop its own constituency, if only of people whose paychecks depend on it, and that makes pulling the plug very hard to do.

      Also (and I recognize you were using theater only as an example, but still) arts organizations are not fungible: no theater company thinks, at least, that it’s doing “basically the same thing” as any other. And theaters (or music ensembles, or art galleries) “competing for the same audience” are wise if they address the problem of developing a new audience instead of just folding their tents and stealing quietly away. If the group is truly producing mediocrity, it will die out in the non-distant future–but if it’s producing excellence that only five people see, the solution is not to kill the company but to expand the audience.

  3. Megan Says:

    The Hyde–30 Years is Enough! Coalition has been fighting to repeal the Hyde Amendment since early 2007. Check out our campaign at http://www.hyde30years.nnaf.org The campaign is coordinated by the National Network of Abortion Funds but it is a coalition effort of more than 70 organizations — national, state, and local in scope.

    Thanks!

    • Nonprofiteer Says:

      Thank you–I’ll check it out immediately and hope to figure out a way to participate and assist.

  4. janinsanfran Says:

    Okay — I can relate to that. But I relate far less well to foundations looking over the terrain and deciding that various groups they fund should be in a coalition with each other. The foundation may be on to some real affinity — or not. And if not, that won’t stop the coalition from being started and meetings being attended and retreats put on, ad nauseam. The coalition has become the condition of the funding…
    Something is very wrong here.

    • Nonprofiteer Says:

      Absolutely: coalitions have to be driven by genuine commonality of interest among organizations, not by external agendas imposed by external agents. And coalitions suggested by funders are particularly suspect because they’re likely to be driven by a desire to cut costs by redirecting funds to the coalition and away from individual coalition partners.

      Coalitions also have huge management problems of their own. It’s still worth thinking about ways to capitalize on progressives’ new-found ability (in the electoral arena, at least) to transcend differences and get something done, and coalitions seem like a natural context in which to do so.

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