We have all seen the strong stance of the Tea Party as of late on TV, radio, and the internet. The question has arisen, and has been considered by some, as to whether or not the story laid out by the Tea Party is similar to a scene that might be created by the nonprofit sector becoming more politically active.
Many have advocated for years that the political activism restrictions on nonprofit organizations be lifted. And, also, many nonprofits have found ways around these regulations, loopholes in the laws. We, as nonprofits, do have many needs from the government, most known being for funding reasons. And, we, as nonprofits, do have many cases we could bring forward politically with hopes of changing that need into a luxury.
However, the question presented by Rick Cohen in this article from the Nonprofit Quarterly, is “Does the modern nonprofit sector actually fit the notion of “political movement?” I considered this question for some time. My opinion is this:
The nonprofit sector prides itself on and was created as a direct result of providing the needs that are not met through business and through government. It is an entity in and of itself, completely separate from politics – to an extent. Although all three sectors are now found to be interdependent of one another, they still all do their own thing, they do what they have to do, filling in the holes left by the others. And although I do not think that there should be one all-knowing, all-doing, all-providing source of services and goods for people, I do think in order to provide the best goods and services, there needs to be some sense of continuity.
What would happen if nonprofits were given the ability to become a political movement – a party with its own ideals and goals? In all honesty, I think it would be great chaos. There would be territory arguments, financial arguments, and battles over who was best suited to make decisions regarding every aspect of organization. What might be a better option, for all involved, might be a compromise. A common ground. A role sharing might be a more profitable option. Giving each sector an opportunity to make certain decisions, to have an impact on the way things are done. Maybe this would allow for a greater understanding between sectors, allowing for that interdependency that is required to grow and flourish……………why can’t we all just get along?? J