I don’t care about the nonprofit sector. I cringe as I write that, not wanting to offend the nice nonprofit people who have signed all my paychecks over the last four years of my nonprofit career. But, it is true.
I also don’t care about social entrepreneurs, even though I spend a lot of time trying to help them out. I think B-Corporations are a nice idea, and L3Cs are interesting, if not a little confusing in their tax code. Community organizing is a great way to get things done, but I don’t have the energy to do it. Public-private partnerships have a lot of potential, as does this new “shared value” thing that is trying to get corporations to integrate social value creation into their bottom line. I’m skeptical of impact investing, mostly because I don’t know much about investments in general.
The thing is, I don’t really think any of this stuff is that great. They intrigue me on a personal level, because I’m a social-sector nerd, and I think they do make a difference in their own ways. All of these developments have the proponents and detractors that oscillate between high praise and condemnation. (Ok, as close as do-gooder commentary can get to those extremes.) I support healthy debate as much as the next, but when I see the praise and damnation go on in the blogosphere for a little too long, I sigh and go back to work.
Here’s what I do care about: Taking a step back and looking at the broader system that all of these innovations, organizations, ideas, developments, initiatives, departments, collaborations, efforts, impacts, or outcomes create. There seems to be this arbitrary division amongst people working for generally the same goal based on from where their capital streams come. If your paycheck comes from donations, you are supposed to mistrust those whose paycheck comes from selling things or levying taxes. If you get your paycheck from selling things, you are supposed to know better than anyone else. If you get paid out of public funds, you are supposed to, above all else, make sure nothing ever, ever goes the slightest bit wrong.
To be frank, this is bullshit. Everyone knows it. We are all working for the same thing: A better society. All of those funds flowing through these different organizations are all coming from the collective progress of our country and world, and I don’t see why we need to be at odds with each other over that.
Simple to say, but hard to practice. When I take a step back to look at the broader system for social change at work, I see that it isn’t complete. But we are getting there and this blog aims to be the slightest nudge in that direction. The National Capital Region has a multitude of people working towards creating this “un-sector,” and we hope to feature as many of those individuals and their ideas as we can through this blog.
Please join us. Comment, share, discuss, like, dislike, or do whatever you think needs to be done to help get us to this unified system. You can also learn more about our contributors or the organizations that have signed on to this goal.
And you can always contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.
Photo credit: Cameron Maddux