In my latest column for the American Prospect, I explore the relationship between so-called “social movement non-profit organizations” and the on-the-ground social movements they seek to spark and/or support. Here’s an excerpt:
The problem with social-movement organizations is that they can ossify, moving away from their original dynamic energy and settling into a routine that can be risk averse and stagnant. Sadly, many organizations that once grew out of and served movements become little more than mausoleums to those movements, the very existence of the institution a symbolic triumph to the victories of the past rather than an active participant in fights for the future.
What is needed is dynamic, adaptive growth. Doctors tell us that embryonic stem cells are especially valuable because they can morph into other varieties of cells. Put them next to a lung, they become lung cells. Put them next to skin, they become skin cells. They’re classically opportunistic, but not in a bad way—a political consultant might call them “strategic.” And keen strategy is just what is needed at this crucial time for social-movement organizations.
Read the whole essay here — and especially if you are in this mix of organizations and movements, tell me what you think.
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