Often infused with democratic and even radical rhetoric, nonprofits are always at the mercy of funding syndicates and not the constituencies they speak on behalf of. Many good people apply for and use grant monies for a wide variety of service and organizing projects, but what happens when money begins to provide the spine for a diffuse left instead of politics? What role do nonprofit foundations play internationally as extensions of US political and cultural hegemony?
Andrea del Moral writes for Lip: "Nonprofit organizations that began as radical grassroots associations of individuals are becoming corporations that largely copy the mainstream economy. They are professional, but not educated on the ground about the actual issues; organized, but not effective; compliant with tax laws, but not responsive or accountable to community needs."
An earlier and still on point piece by Joan Roelofs: "Those who wish to promote change should look closely at what sustains the present system. One reason capitalism doesn't collapse despite its many weaknesses and valiant opposition movements is because of the "nonprofit sector." Yet philanthropic capital, its investment and its distribution, are generally neglected by the critics of capitalism. Most studies of the subject are generously funded by the nonprofit sector itself; few researchers have followed up on the observation of Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto:
A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.... To this section belong the economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind.
"The United States is unique in the size and scope of this sector which spends over $400 billion annually. Its tax-free wealth is largely unaccountable: just imagine the land, the buildings, their contents, and the investments of churches, private universities and schools, museums, zoos, teaching hospitals, conservation trusts, opera houses, etc.
"This model has been exported to everywhere for over a century. Currently the United States philanthropy network is attempting to create entire 'nonprofit' sectors in Eastern European countries. 'Bible imperialism' was an early version; another was a large Rockefeller infusion into the London School of Economics during the 1920s and 1930s.
"Some may see a galaxy of organizations doing good works -- a million points of light -- but the nonprofit world is also a system of power which is exercised in the interest of the corporate world."