There are other strong elements to the book. She makes clear that the people she is writing about had a complex and changing relationship to the Communist Party, and the book gives a tremendous amount of attention to this issue. Phillips is also very strong in discussing the way the unions dealt with questions of race and gender. Their efforts in the s to introduce a closed shop and thereby end discriminatory hiring practices are carefully documented here, as is the generally positive experience of African American organizers within the union.
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Institutional Login. LOG IN. Second, the CIW is exploring ways to partner with smaller grocery stores and restaurants to generate new sources of revenue. It does not make sense for smaller grocery stores coops, regional chains to participate in the Fair Food Program in the same way as larger chains, because they usually lack the market power to influence the conduct of their suppliers.
Yet, they are in some ways natural allies to the Fair Food Program, since they often share a constituency of conscientious, ethically minded consumers.
A Renegade Union: Interracial Organizing and Labor Radicalism
The exact form of the partnership remains to be seen, but the CIW is exploring a number of creative methods. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United ROC-United historically has been funded primarily by foundations—about 95 percent of its budget comes from private grants. The organization has actively been trying to become more self-sustaining, however, and is exploring a variety of ways to do so. Since many of their projects are in experimental stages, it remains to be seen how much revenue-generation potential they have.
The Difficulty of Raising Money for Non-Union Organizing
First, the organization collects membership dues, and provides various services to members who pay dues for example, training on front-of-the-house, fine-dining serving and bartending. The services are funded by a mix of private foundation grants, membership dues, and government grants for workforce development, training, and safety. ROC-United is now also exploring services that can be offered to these constituencies for a fee—for example, wine-pairing classes for consumers, and employer training and technical assistance for restaurants that are interested in learning how to transition to higher wages and better benefits.
The organizing group believes that mobile applications may also hold revenue-generating possibilities, and has already created Top Server , a game that teaches fine-dining and wine-pairing skills, and the Diners Guide , which helps consumers identify high-road restaurants. Since tip theft is a serious issue in the industry, the organization is also exploring an application that would let consumers send tips directly to their servers, without credit card processing fees.
Finally, ROC-United is expanding its legal program, which provides restaurant workers with legal resources and support. The program helps workers fight wage theft, but also provides some resources to ROC-United—attorneys pay ROC-United referral fees, and members may donate back some of their personal winnings to the organization.
The Industrial Areas Foundation IAF operates perhaps the widest range of large earned-income ventures of any organization interviewed for this report. The ventures are incorporated as separate organizations in which the organizing groups have governance roles. Some of the ventures make payments to the IAF organizing groups as a core cost of their work, in recognition of the crucial role of organizing in creating and advancing the ventures. Washington Interfaith Network have developed housing ventures that have built over six thousand affordable homes and apartments.
The affordable housing work in New York has been particularly dramatic, and has been the subject of a fair amount of press attention. The Washington Interfaith network also developed the Community Purchasing Alliance CPA , an affiliated cooperative that aggregates the purchasing power of religious institutions, schools, and other nonprofits, enabling them to save money on energy, waste hauling, building maintenance, supplies, and solar installation.
CPA currently has participating institutions, and has helped individual members save thousands of dollars annually and sometimes far more. Yet, the IAF has had to learn, like many other organizing groups, just how hard it can be to run successful businesses. The cooperative, which was founded in , still requires some foundation support, although it expects to break even without foundation support soon. As a result, there are potential reputational costs to the IAF if the ventures do not succeed, which is part of why the IAF tries to be careful when selecting partners to operate them. The IAF also has a strong membership dues culture.
Because IAF affiliates are comprised of institutional members rather than individuals, however, it is somewhat easier for them to collect dues than it is for an organizing group composed of individuals. Given all the innovation in raising revenue for organizing, it is helpful to state outright the goals that fundraising for organizing may have.
Some of the goals for organizing groups are no doubt the same as those for any nonprofit, mission-driven organization. In particular, funding should ideally be:. In addition, there are a number of goals that are particularly important for organizing groups.
Ideally, fundraising efforts for organizing—and the money those efforts raise—should:. Some of these goals obviously work together. For example, an organizing group that fosters accountability by ensuring that a lot of its resources come from its members may also find that funding rewards accomplishment, since membership growth is likely to follow organizational success. Some goals may constrain each other. An organization may decide, for example, that for reasons of accountability, over 50 percent of its income must come from its members in some fashion whether paid by them as dues, paid by them for services, or raised by them through small dollar contributions.
Yet, this is not easy for many organizing groups to achieve, especially if their members are low-income and even more so if their members are unbanked. As a result, it may be harder for such groups to be sure that their funding is sufficient and sustainable. In this situation, organizing groups seeking to strike a balance between competing goals may find it helpful to think through a set of principles tailored to their specific needs and potential resources see Table 3. Of course, any given organizing group may care about some goals more than others.
Some groups, in particular, do not collect membership dues because taking money from low-income members may not seem either fair or feasible, among other reasons. The first is that, at least in the short run, there may not be any one single business model for sustainable funding of organizing groups, 51 or an easy substitute for legally established automatic dues deduction.
It is hard to imagine a readily available funding source that would let groups accomplish the majority of their funding goals, unless the funding was both required by law and derived from members. There are of course a variety of ways that countries other than the United States use the law to enable better funding for organizing—Nordic countries, for example, by law, tie certain unemployment benefits to joining unions. Second, there are a lot of ways that raising money for organizing can go awry.
Groups can generate too little income from their membership, or rely too much on a single outside source of income. Perhaps most relevant right now, however, is the potential for mission distortion, namely the risk of doing something that could hurt actual organizing efforts—often by thinking about fundraising completely independently from organizational needs.
When for-profit businesses try to raise revenue, they are focusing on their core business proposition. For nonprofits, on the other hand, the reverse is often true—fundraising is a distraction from the core work of the organization. At the same time, organizers often have two character traits that may make them particularly prone to poor choices about how to raise money. First, they really feel like they need the money. Second, since organizing work itself often requires believing that David can triumph over Goliath, organizers tend to be very optimistic by nature. We do things everyone says are impossible.
Yet when organizers have no particular expertise in the method they are using to raise money and that method requires large investments of time and resources to succeed, organizing groups that are already desperate for money may be prone to choose funding methods that, in the long run, are not in the interests of the organizing mission. The risks from raising money are perhaps particularly keen when organizing groups engage in earned-revenue ventures, an area of increased interest. There is, of course, a long history of organizing groups using services and earned revenue ventures very successfully to build their organizing; for example, theaters and summer camps that helped sustain the labor movement in the s by building communities with specific visions for social change, 56 or legal services that helped draw people to immigrant organizing groups.
For one thing, raising money through a commercial operation is difficult, because running a viable commercial operation is difficult. Of those that claimed they were profitable, half did not fully account for indirect costs such as allocations of general overhead or senior management time. Many new businesses fail whether or not they are run by nonprofits; according to the U. Moreover, even profitable businesses may not be efficient ways to generate income to use for organizing.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Even profitable ventures may not generate free cash flow, in which case they make no financial contribution to the parent organization. But more important is that even when the venture does generate free cash flow, it may be a very costly way of raising the amount of cash it creates, considering the investments of time, scarce human resources, and start-up capital required.
Philanthropic fundraising might be a cheaper and easier way to generate the same amount of money. Finally, even those efforts that generate income for organizing may not create enough revenue to allow organizing groups to grow dramatically—a significant concern for groups hoping someday to be as powerful as unions have been historically. Most groups are trying earned revenue ventures that are destined to always be tiny because of their structure and market size. Earned-income ventures can also create mission creep, pulling organizations perhaps only incrementally away from their primary activities yet changing the organization in the process.
Money can also affect the internal dynamics of an organization—if one part of the organization is generating revenue and another is not, that may influence whose voice gets listened to in intra-organizational disputes. Groups may want to think through the potential tradeoffs of their earned-revenue ventures quite explicitly. None of this means that organizing groups should simply avoid earned-revenue efforts—indeed, earned-revenue projects can play a major role in helping certain groups grow to scale.
Yet, when groups are understandably desperate for money, it is sometimes too easy to gloss over potential tradeoffs, unless they force themselves to consider those tradeoffs explicitly. If no, are there any activities we would still be interested in doing that we could monetize instead? Does thinking about this effort help these people to do their jobs or distract them from it?
What are the implications of each for how we do our organizing? If so, how will we avoid creating a situation in which our members feel like customers rather than members? Different organizations handle these issues in different ways. When the largely self-funded Freelancers Union is assessing new opportunities, for example, it starts first with a focus on member needs and organizational needs.
Only once an idea meets those criteria do staff members 74 assess the revenue possibilities from that opportunity. Before Fair Care Labs will try an initiative, it must meet at least one of the first two prongs, and hopefully two out of the four:. While there is no perfect way of building revenue for organizing groups, staying focused on the overall organizational strategy helps to integrate revenue generation into the culture of organizing groups in the most organic way possible. Successfully staying focused on organizational strategy can require serious discipline.
Fundraising for organizing is a difficult task—it is hard to generate sufficient money, and harder still to do so in ways consistent with how many organizing groups think about mission and the purpose of money for organizing. Many organizing groups are innovating in an attempt to achieve greater financial sustainability and independence, but it remains to be seen whether they can actually achieve that sustainability—especially without it coming at a dear cost to the organizing.
A Renegade Union: Interracial Organizing and Labor Radicalism
Developing new sources of funding for organizing is a crucial problem—one to which people are rightly devoting lots of time and creativity. Hopefully, organizing groups will only become more sophisticated at raising revenue in the future, embedding it in the culture of their work. Yet, fundraising for organizing should serve the work that organizing groups do, not the other way around.
Working people deserve a voice in politics, in their communities, and in their workplaces—and that is only possible if organizing is both financially sustainable and focused on its mission. Many thanks to all of the organizing groups that generously agreed to be interviewed for this paper; to Danae Lopez for her great work during her internship at TCF; and to Marshall Ganz, Toby Kasper, Peter Murray, Andrew Stettner, and others for very helpful conversations and comments on this paper.
- A renegade union : interracial organizing and labor radicalism / Lisa Phillips - Details - Trove.
- High Plains Tango: A Novel.
- New York History;
- AN ALIEN SLAVERY.
- Renegade unionism.
- Organizing’s Business Model Problem.
Shayna Strom is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, where she works on issues related to the future of work, future of organizing, poverty, and inequality. I Understand. Download EN EN. Sign up for updates. Sign Up.
Follow us. Shayna Strom, Contributor Shayna Strom is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, where she works on issues related to the future of work, future of organizing, poverty, and inequality.