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The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

Max Uhlenbeck
Date Published: 
November 01, 2005
    “I’m very much afraid of this ‘Foundation Complex.’ We’re getting praise from places that worry me.”—Ella Baker, June 1963

In May of 2004 the radical feminist organization INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, organized an historic conference titled The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex. The conference addressed issues related to funding within the radical movement, specifically the role that large foundations were playing in re-structuring grassroots organizations to fit within a corporate model.

While attending the most recent INCITE! conference in New Orleans in March of 2005, we learned that in the lead up to the conference they had lost an important $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation because of their principled stance on the issue of Palestine. In their spirit of defiance and commitment to truly radical politics, we hope the following articles can contribute to the important dialogue they have started.

What has been the cost of the proliferation of this Non-Profit Industrial Complex? Why have we seen this shift from volunteer based activism to staff driven advocacy work? How has the field of social change become so professionalized that one often needs multiple college degrees just to qualify for a job? What can movements in the US learn from the relationships between large NGOs and grass roots activists in places like Chiapas and Palestine?

These are some of the questions that we have tried to raise in this section of Left Turn, recognizing the complexity of these issues and that so many of us involved in social justice work are tied into this non-profit industrial complex in one way or another.
—Max Uhlenbeck