Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Movement Moment

The Building Movement Project team just met in Oakland this past weekend. We meet in person twice a year and the meetings are always, in almost equal parts, fun, exhausting, stimulating, overwhelming, theoretical and practical. I am amazed at all we get done and daunted by what we commit ourselves to do.

One of the things we came back to over and over, from different angles, is the notion that this historical moment provides those of us who work in and around the nonprofit sector some important opportunities which we could easily miss if we simply hunker down and wait for the economy to get better.

While this current recession has caused enormous suffering, it has also created the space to promote profound economic change. Every economic assumption is up for grabs right now. People are talking about banking, regulations, compensation, the role of government, the role of the corporate sector in a deep and thoughtful way, and are asking fundamental questions. We of the progressive nonprofit sector need to get out in front of this “movement moment” and provide some suggestions and even some answers to the questions people have, and we must invite people to develop their own analysis. The right wing will happily provide simple easy to understand answers, largely beginning and ending with the frame “no taxes”. We must provide a simple easy to understand beginning frame which begins and ends with ‘the common good.” Peter Maurin, the teacher of Dorothy Day who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, said that our job is “to create a society in which it is easy to be good.” There are many elements to this society, but it does presume a commitment to a rough social equity which will be achieved in part by a progressive tax system. The nonprofit sector can be instrumental in insisting on this, or we can be the primary organizational victims of not having it. It is our choice, and it must be made quickly.


Frances said...

Thanks for this post@

Mazarine said...

Thank you for putting a framework on what fundraisers and development professionals do on a day to day basis!

Make it easy for people to do good!

I want to say Cause-marketing does this, but it doesn't, really.

It's easier if we touch the giver in as many ways as we can, and invite them to give.