Guide for the Exploited Nonprofit Workers, Issue 1, Dec 2011

This is the first issue of newsletter by Tituba’s Revenge.  The creation of this newsletter is part of a working project aiming to develop an anti-capitalist analysis of the material oppression of the communities we work within through fighting against our shared exploitation in the workplace.

Feedback/comments/questions/critiques are welcome!

Download PDF version heretituba_newsletter_1_dec2011

Our next issue will discuss the relationship between capitalism and nonprofit structure, and how to organize within nonprofits. Stay tuned!


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8 thoughts on “Guide for the Exploited Nonprofit Workers, Issue 1, Dec 2011

  1. This is such amazing and necessary work! I’ll be coming back for the next edition… 🙂

  2. Shut-up! I am literally researching/ writing a paper on the need for an union for nonprofit workers — WE SHOULD TALK

  3. Thank you so much for this. You have put in words my experience and the experience of all the folks I have worked with before. I have countless stories of what we have been subjected to as ‘frontline’ nonprofit employees and we are all queer people of color. Thanks again. This is an important step towards much needed change.

  4. I’m glad that y’all made a point to differentiate between nonprofit structures whose primary focus is caring labor and “radical” nonprofits focused on organizing. Not because I think that either one can be so easily disentangled from a more general critique of the ‘nonprofit-industrial complex’, but that critique has been so widely circulated and modified for polemical purposes that it’s lost a lot of critical depth and urgency in the process and created a situation where many of us who have been workers at nonprofits might not trust that we are engaging in a discussion that accounts for how nonprofits and alienated labor within those structures differ or how that work look like on the ground.

    How I think this particular critique of “radical” nonprofits might be strengthened is by accounting for the problems and anxieties that are produced not only between the “qualitative”/”quantitative” techniques of veridiction that govern how organizations or funders/the state might assess the work or the administrative/hierarchical models that are imposed on staff organizations, but also the ways in which “radical” nonprofits that DO actually value and work toward supporting “struggles from below” are challenged by the contradictions of a base membership that has often internalized the very same combined and uneven discourses and experiences that shape how service or organizing nonprofits identify what needs to be done beyond addressing immediate survival needs. It’s through this that I question whether “exploited” is an accurate description of nonprofit labor – except for in cases where nonprofits are created as vanity projects to serve a particular personality and organized around “poverty pimping” – or whether those of us that have been on staff are “alienated” or “exhausted” by the limits of those nonprofits and the ways we might internalize the antagonism and impossible burden of trying to make them work toward our aims to the best of our abilities?

    I am interested in building infrastructure – while resisting institutionalization – that support people’s revolutionary political development and transforms the scale and impact of our movements. I think that infrastructure must be tested by its ability to sustain and care for people during periods when the tide of struggle has ebbed – not just “members” or “clients”, but its core and leadership. I don’t think nonprofits with radicals on staff are capable of radicalizing a fundamentally conservative organizational form whose stability is dependent on a subordinate relationship to the state and/or philanthropic economic power. I think critical praxis needs to continue among people who work in nonprofits, people who rely on or support nonprofits, or people interested in doing that work – including organizing against workplace exploitation, or resisting depoliticization. But I hope in the process of organizing nonprofit workers against alienation there can be equal or more time given to identifying existing models or paths that offer promise or building vision around what revolutionary infrastructure can look like and how we can mobilize our strengths, creativity and relationships to actualize that. I say that as someone with considerably more questions than confident answers.

    This is rad, and I look forward to reading your next issue.

  5. THANK YOU! I am currently working as a full time volunteer receiving a small stipend at a non-profit that “serves” women and children. As time goes on the more I see the ugly truths. I am becoming disappointed and disgusted by the people, processes, and Machiavellian twisting of the “mission” into servicing the bottom line. I deeply love the women children as do the other volunteers, however it’s horrible the salaried employees see nothing but little dollar signs with runny noses. It has provided such a catharsis to read this post and your page overall. Thank you for validating my feelings and giving me the strength allow myself to feel the way I do, fortifying me against the guilt and shame the tongue-clicking “professionals” above try to dish out.

  6. brendenbeck on said:

    This is definitely an area of labor that needs more attention. I’m sure you all are aware of INCITE Women of Color’s great book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded about the role of non-profits in social change. I would love to see you at Tituba’s Revenge, in future issues, name culprits of this exploitation. It’s clear from this issue that non-profit workers are short-changed, but by whom? Non-profit managers? The non-profit tax structure? The for-profit world? Donors? Boards of Directors? Keep up the good work!

  7. Pingback: Finding Our Revolutionary Agency: A Review of Peacock Rebellion’s “Agen(c)y” | Advance the Struggle

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