THE CHRONICLE OF PHILAN THROPY MARK LI TZLER
“Forgive me Father, it’s been about two church campaigns
since my last gift.”
Philanthropy Must Understand
the Tea Party’s Strategy
Party movement’s objections to
government and often weighed
in against its preferred candidates.
A more convincing explanation for the Tea Party’s success
may be its embrace of the kinds
of methods that community organizers have long championed.
Beginning with a call-to-action
on a television news show, Tea
Party members, in little more
than a year, built integrated
networks of groups, operating in
communities across the United
To do so, they relied on television and the Internet to acquire
information, recruit members,
schedule meetings and rallies,
and coordinate tactics. They
also built on ties established
through non-political organizations, such as religious and
business ones. Some even adopted techniques promoted by the
liberal organizer Saul Alinsky,
just as the groups that helped
elect Barack Obama did.
The rise of the Tea Party
movement, in short, suggests
that fears of civic disengagement in the United States may
have been exaggerated. When
motivated by a compelling set
of issues, it seems that Americans can still put together an
impressive campaign, spontaneously, swiftly, and with little
professional leadership or guidance. Whatever their inclination toward “bowling alone,”
they are capable of working together when necessary. For that
reason alone, the philanthropic
world should find at least some
comfort in the Tea Party’s accomplishments.
But unlike the Obama cam-
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paign, Tea Party members take
a far more skeptical view toward government—and indeed,
toward the President himself.
It is a rare example of a grass-roots effort that seeks to reduce
the influence of government,
rather than expand it, to solve
the problems that led its members to get involved. That is
what has caused so many leaders in the philanthropic world—
who often see government as an
important ally—to be apprehensive about it.
That outlook is unfortunate
for at least two reasons. First,
it too easily dismisses the value
of civic engagement in strengthening society by encouraging
the public to take responsibility
for what it considers important
In addition, it fails to appreciate that by becoming more involved, those with strongly felt
concerns will face pressure to
reconcile them with the views
of others. Though not inevitable, out of such interactions may
come resolutions that are mutually beneficial and consensual.
For all the alarm it has occasioned, the advent of the Tea
Party movement is actually a
welcome development, not only
because of what it reveals about
the social health of the United
States, but also because it potentially opens the door to dealing with issues that affect philanthropic groups and their allies too.
Leslie Lenkowsky is professor of public affairs and philanthropic studies at Indiana University and a regular contributor
to these pages. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Down Economy, Let’s Not Ignore
the Value of Creating Nonprofit Jobs
CARLOS SLIM, the Mexi- can businessman who is the richest person in the
world, recently derided his fellow billionaires’ “Giving Pledge,”
saying that charity does not
solve anything. Instead, Mr.
Slim said that increasing the
numbers of jobs in the economy
is the only path to ending poverty. Mr. Slim’s comments show
a stark ignorance of the important role that nonprofit groups
play in creating jobs.
While the role of business in
promoting social change is now
attracting the spotlight, it is
equally important that our society recognize the financial value created by nonprofits.
The nonprofit world collectively generates $1.9-trillion
in revenue each year, which
means that nonprofit organizations represent roughly 13 percent of the United States economy.
Nonprofits are businesses.
They simply receive preferential
tax treatment due to their commitment to reinvest all financial surpluses back into their
organization and to operate in
service of a charitable mission.
Like all businesses, nonprofits
A lot of people.
Nonprofits are responsible for
employing one out of 10 American workers. It should be of particular interest to Mr. Slim that
at least in the United States,
nonprofits have been responsible for a faster rate of job creation than their for-profit counterparts.
According to research from
the John Hopkins University,
nonprofit employment grew by
2. 4 percent a year from 1990 to
2006, while for-profit business-
es increased the size of their
work forces by just 1
When a for-profit
company operates, it
creates financial value by spending its financial resources to
employ people and acquire goods and services from other companies. This financial
value helps expand the economy and advance our standard
of living. Any financial surplus
generated by the firm is either
reinvested into the company or
distributed to the company’s
When a nonprofit operates, it
creates financial value in a very
similar way. It also employs
people and acquires goods and
services from other companies.
This financial value adds to
economic growth and advances
standards of living in an identical manner to for-profit activity.
The only significant difference
is that nonprofits reinvest all of
their financial surplus back into
For-profits and nonprofits
produce both social value and
financial value. They are both
economic entities that create
jobs, help grow our economy,
and increase our standard of
There are important distinctions between for-profits and
nonprofits. However, the idea
that there is an inherent trade-off between making charitable
contributions and supporting
job creation and the economy is
Sean Stannard-Stockton is
chief executive of Tactical Philanthropy Advisors, in Burlingame, Calif., and author of the
Tactical Philanthropy blog. He
is a regular columnist for The
Chronicle of Philanthropy.
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