Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Nonprofit Mentality

Lest anyone think that Jere Boschee is wrong to describe the "nonprofit mentality" as a 'belief that capitalism and profits are social evils,' consider the following comments by two active nonprofit advocates:

I can understand the argument that even Pablo Eisenberg makes for compensating some who are in need, but we must remember that the lack of compensation doesn't get in the way of great folks serving as stewards for any number of philanthropies.
Joe Breiteneicher
No Comp-No Problem

Nonprofits serve the public interest but are accountable mainly to boards of wealthy people. Whether the boards are paid or unpaid they are likely to be imbued with the attitudes of those who have made it. How many at that level can be upset at the way things are, since how bad can a world be that has propelled board members to wealth, power, prestige and prominence?
Phil Cubeta
I Resent the Rich

Mr Breiteneicher's assertion is absurd. The lack of compensation most certainly does get in the way of great people serving. I know quite a few people who want to be involved in humanitarian work, but who must spend there time earning the money they need to pay their bills. Social entrepreneurship allows them to do both. At least in a some cases, no comp means no contribution.

Mr. Cubeta's comments are equally absurd. Although I am not independently wealthy, I know several people who are. I have noticed that they have many of the same sorts of cares and anxieties that less well off folks have. They are concerned about the world we live in, and the world their children will inherit. They have health and relationship problems just like the rest of us. Mr. Cubeta's remarks drip with envy, and envy is a most unattractive quality.

To paraphrase MLK, 'Let us not judge others by the colour of their skin (nor by their bank balance), but by the content of their character.'
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19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the world of NTC, I have come across the objection to participants being paid on many occasions.

Often this is a 'knee-jerk' reaction, which occurs purely through the 'status quo' of humanitarian work being the nonprofit model.

When it is clearly laid out to people that even nonprofits tend to (most often) pay at least some of their people, then they grasp the fact that we at NTC are simply a 'pure' version of this.

In other words, no aid provided in the NTC model equates to no income for the participant.

Sure as the sun rises every morning, this is a more equitable model than any with a 'salaried' approach.

It simply takes a logical and honest explanation.

Love the blog Tom!

Chris Jordan

11:28 pm  
Anonymous The Happy Tutor said...

The clash is really between two cultures of wealth, one based on stewardship, the other on entrepreneurialism, old money and new money. Class versus crass. You see that in both Breitenicher and in Cubeta. Old School, New School. Without a grounding in the traditions of nobless oblige, it is hard to understand what Joe is saying. The resentment of the rich in Cubeta derives from Jesus, in part, as well as from his own experience as a servant of wealth.

2:27 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

Marge, Americans don't understand irony. Homer Simpson

4:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How many people must be made to suffer needlessly in order to satisfy the whims and wooly thinking of the arrogant, the self-righteous and the sanctimonious?"

Indeed, a question best answered by social entrepreneurs!

-klaatu

11:04 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

I think progressives are in a better position to answer the question klaatu.

Consider Farnum Brown's remarks:

. . .it requires the progressive community to relinquish one of its most firmly held prejudices--namely, that profits are the enemy of progress and vice versa. This entrenched (if largely unexamined) view pits social progress and financial profit in a zero-sum contest where gains for one are losses for the other. This means, of course, that you can't pursue both. You have to choose.

And so the entire realm of commerce is cast as inherently irremediable except from the outside--i.e., by the coercive forces of government or the gentler meliorations of non-profits. This stark, Manichean outlook has led progressives to position themselves on the sidelines of the economy, ceding its tremendous energies to the right while looking solely to government and non-commercial entities for solutions.

So long as progressive concerns compete with economic prospects, they will come out the loser. The challenge for progressives then is to re-imagine commerce in our own image rather than disdain it. We have to learn that profits and progress can be allies instead of enemies.

The secondary gain from this joining of profits and progress is political clout. If you set a larger table, more people will join you. And when more people join you, political power follows. Until progressives can imagine a world where our social and environmental concerns create rather than limit economic opportunity, we will lack the political power necessary to fully achieve our goals.

http://indyweek.com/durham/current/business.html

2:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prolixity is the hole of wit!

Klaatu

3:29 am  
Blogger Juke said...

Profit or not is all about money, which is vernacular for capital, which is a very weird thing that exists in-between the abstract and the real.
On the one hand it so dominates our lives now that it has more motive substance than any human emotion or principle, on the other hand it only exists at all because we believe it does.
This gives tremendous power to anyone who can get outside the bonds of wealth, and also to anyone who can get to the center of the ant-lion pit capitalism is.
"Profits" don't exist without money/capital.
People do, though.
This is naive, but not hopelessly so.
No more than a desire to live is naive, considering the inevitability of death.
We're using money/capital right now. For most of our history we didn't. Unless you want to, as some do, mark the emergence of humankind as cosynchronous with the birth of financial systems. Everything that came before that being too primitive to bother with.
It's quite likely that if we have much of a history still to come we'll get past that, and on to something better, more aligned with what can still pass for human values.
When the Tutor speaks of Jesus above, he's talking about the Jesus whose work was undertaken at the bottom of his social hierarchy.
The one who is supposed to have said that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

6:49 am  
Blogger Tom said...

Kaatu writes:

Prolixity is the hole of wit!

Klaatu,

Good News!

Although Swift and Kirerkegaard fell into this pit, you've avoided it.

Cheers,

9:37 am  
Blogger Tom said...

Jukes writes:

'"When the Tutor speaks of Jesus above, he's talking about the Jesus whose work was undertaken at the bottom of his social hierarchy.

The one who is supposed to have said that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."'

Thanks for you comments Jukes. Your Gospel (and perhaps Tutor's) resembles Tolstoy's "The Gospel In Brief." (At least it resembles Isabel Hapgood's translation of it.)Tolstoy reads the Gospel text in a peculiar, but interesting way.

Your Marxist (Althusserian?)account of ideology, money and things to come, seems a bit obsolete to me, but perhaps the ISA has blinded me to the truth.

I am in favour of free markets, especially 'the free mareketplace of ideas.' I agree with Oliver Wendall Holmes who described it (the free marketplace of ideas)as the 'best test of truth.'

We, no doubt, disagree on the best way forward, but perhaps we can agree that the 'status quo' leaves much room for improvement.

I have no praise for 'cloistered virtue,' your remarks are welcome here.

Please excuse my prolixity.

10:24 am  
Blogger et alia said...

The three biggest lies:

1. I'm not afraid to die.
2. The check is in the mail.
3. I am free of envy.

Show me someone seething with envy, and I know I see someone I can trust. Of course, when the object of that envy is a miscreant, then righteous indignation is only appropriate.

Show me someone who claims to be free of envy, and I know I'm looking at a liar. Show me someone who criticizes the envious, and I know I'm looking at a whited sepulchre.

8:58 am  
Blogger Tom said...

et alia writes:

"Show me someone who claims to be free of envy, and I know I'm looking at a liar. Show me someone who criticizes the envious, and I know I'm looking at a whited sepulchre."

Strong allusions to the NT in your text.

Here are a few more NT references to compliment your words:

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

"shew me they faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

35 million meals donated (as a result of NTC social entrepreneurs' efforts) to feed malnourished children around the world over the past 3 years.

How many children have your efforts fed?

10:41 am  
Blogger et alia said...

How many children have my efforts fed? Tom asks, or rather sneers, leaving the question as the last paragraph of his reply. I am not troubled by it.

I am troubled by his tacit assumption that it is sufficient to feed the hungry, rather than provide the means that they should no longer require charity. Samuel Beckett has a character in one of his early novels, a dependent upon an allowance from a relative, cry out at the suggestion that he connive to increase the pittance he receives, "Shall I bite the hand that feeds me to have it strangle me?" I am sure the hand in question has a beautiful manicure.

Finally, it's risible that one's acquaintance with a few of independently wealth should be considered an acceptable substitute for thorough knowledge of a class' acts and attitudes. To use the unlovely and envious language of science, it's anecdotal evidence and therefore worthless.

4:55 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

et alia writes

"How many children have my efforts fed? Tom asks, or rather sneers, leaving the question as the last paragraph of his reply. I am not troubled by it."

My apology, if my response seems ungracious to you. No sneer was intended.

et alia continues:

"I am troubled by his tacit assumption that it is sufficient to feed the hungry, rather than provide the means that they should no longer require charity."

Indeed, if I had made that assumption, then your troubled countenance would be appropriate, but your strawman won't stand here.

We have done more than supply food. In Malawi, for example, we funded the construction of a food production facility that employs 400 people, and purchases grain from over 30,000 farms in Malawi.

I would add that the facility is locally owned, and that we are financing similar ongoing projects in other lands.

et alia concludes:

"Finally, it's risible that one's acquaintance with a few of independently wealth should be considered an acceptable substitute for thorough knowledge of a class' acts and attitudes. To use the unlovely and envious language of science, it's anecdotal evidence and therefore worthless."

I am please that you are amused by my words. I offered my observation as nothing more than an anecdotal account. Although, even anecdotal evidence can be used to falsify some claims? Think black swans.

What non-anecdotal evidence do you have to offer us? And how many jobs have you . . . ? Oh, forget it, I'll just be accused of sneering.

5:24 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

et alia writes:

"To use the unlovely and envious language of science, it's anecdotal evidence and therefore worthless."

Do you really believe that anecdotal evidence is entirely worthless?

Certainly, one is well advised to understand the limits of such evidence, but your assertion seems bit daft. Would you describe ethnobotany as a pseudoscience?

5:38 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

et alia,

Your posts are reaching me by e-mail, but not the comments page. You are definitley and deftly twisting and distorting information, but I will wait until your posts show to offer my response.

8:32 pm  
Blogger et alia said...

I must concede your point. I wouldn't dignify ethnobotany by calling it a pseudoscience.

10:06 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

et alia sputters:

"I must concede your point. I wouldn't dignify ethnobotany by calling it a pseudoscience."

et alia,

You are a font of . . . .

My friend Michael Balick was honored earlier this year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Michael is an ethnobotanist.

All of this proves nothing, but I thought I'd twist this into an opportunity to congratulate him once again.

March 15, 2005--University of Delaware alumnus Michael J. Balick, an internationally known ethnobotanist with The New York Botanical Garden, has been awarded the 2004 International Scientific Cooperation Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Balick, who has conducted more than 75 research expeditions to work with traditional cultures around the world, is credited with helping to renew and transform the academic discipline of ethnobotany, which is the study of the relationship between people and plants. His fieldwork has taken him to such countries as Belize, Brazil, China, Egypt, Honduras, Peru, Thailand and, most recently, the Federated States of Micronesia. In his expeditions, he works with indigenous cultures to document their knowledge of local plants and to study the environmental effects of their traditional practices.

“I was very honored and humbled to receive notice of the award,” Balick said. “I agreed to accept it on behalf of my colleagues—including the indigenous healers in many places around the world who have really trained me, as well as the dedicated scientists and students with whom I’ve worked.”

He said he accepted the honor, presented in February, “as part of a community, not as an individual.”

In announcing the award, the AAAS particularly noted Balick’s efforts in “preserving traditional knowledge and respect for the values of local peoples and his support for the development of scientific institutions in areas of the world where they are needed most.”

Much of Balick’s work focuses on the search for plants with medicinal properties. Although a large number of traditional remedies and prescription drugs contain substances derived from plants, only a few hundred wild species are generally used, and the medicinal potential of most species has not yet been identified.

Balick’s current, active research in Micronesia involves a comprehensive survey of native plants with healing properties. The project is similar to one he conducted for 15 years in Belize, resulting in the book Rain Forest Remedies: 100 Healing Herbs of Belize, which he coauthored with Rosita Arvigo. The book is designed to be used by teachers, students, traditional healers and researchers, and a portion of its sales is used to support healers and ecosystem preservation in the rain forests of Central America.

For Balick, who said he sometimes feels as if his life moves “between two worlds,” it’s not unusual to attend a formal dinner in Manhattan one evening and, the next day, to carry his well-worn duffel bag onto a plane bound for the Pacific islands of Micronesia. A day later, he might be talking with a “Nahnken,” or oratory chief, on the isolated island of Pohnpei about the ways in which residents there use certain ceremonial beverages.

Closer to home, Balick’s current research also includes the study of traditional Dominican healers living and practicing in New York City.

“I have a fascinating life,” he acknowledged. “I’m very lucky.”

A lifelong interest
Interested in plants since childhood, Balick grew up in the Wilmington, suburbs and attended Brandywine High School, where he ran the school’s greenhouse in his senior year. He came to UD to study in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and, he said, found mentors and academic programs that gave him “an excellent educational foundation that I could build on to pursue my multidisciplinary interests.”

A key mentor was Richard W. Lighty, coordinator of the University’s Longwood Program and a horticulture professor in the agriculture college from 1967-83. Now retired, Lighty said he has kept in touch with Balick and followed his many accomplishments through the years. The AAAS award, he said, “was certainly well-deserved.”

“I first met Mike when he was still in high school, and he received the Delaware Valley Junior Horticulturist of the Year award,” Lighty recalled. Soon after that, Balick enrolled at UD, where Lighty served as his adviser.

“Even at that time, he thought outside the box,” Lighty said. “He had an easygoing manner, but he would always question why things happened, why they worked the way they did. I saw enormous promise in him.”

As an undergraduate, Balick spent a year abroad at Tel Aviv University, studying biology and humanities and conducting ethnobotanical and botanical fieldwork to gain firsthand knowledge of the use of plants by Israeli and Palestinian groups in the region. After graduating from UD in 1975, with honors in agriculture and plant science, he worked in Costa Rica for a year with Robert Wilson, a friend of Lighty’s. Balick played a key role in Wilson’s work building a major botanical garden, Las Cruces Tropical Botanical Garden, and he also learned about the lives of local farm workers, or campesinos.

Balick earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in biology from Harvard University, working under the noted ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. In 1980, he joined The New York Botanical Garden, where he now holds the positions of vice president and chairperson of research and training. He also serves as director and philecology curator of the garden’s Institute of Economic Botany, which he cofounded in 1981. The word “philecology” was coined to refer to a love of the environment.

From 1986-96, Balick helped lead The New York Botanical Garden’s collaboration with the National Cancer Institute to survey Latin America and the Caribbean for plants that might be useful in treating cancer and AIDS.

A shared vision
“Over the past 30 years, Dr. Balick has developed a shared vision of research with his collaborators in many different parts of the world, working with them to gather essential financial and intellectual resources,” Sherburne Abbott, AAAS chief international officer, said. “He has been a leader in revitalizing the little-known field of ethnobotany.”

In all his research activities, Balick said, “Our model is one of full partnership, ensuring local interest and benefits that will last far beyond the lifetime of the immediate project.”

Ethnobotany remains a relatively small scientific specialty, Balick said, estimating that it has probably only a few hundred active practitioners around the world,.But, he said, both popular and scientific interest in the discipline is growing, and new career opportunities are developing.

“It’s an exciting time to be an ethnobotanist, and I would hope to see the growth continue substantially,” Balick said. “How humans relate to the natural environment and how they utilize it is certainly a very important topic at this critical point in time.”

Balick has written 15 books and monographs and published more than 100 scientific papers. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia, New York and Yale universities and at City University of New York and is co-founder of a course that teaches herbal medicine to practicing physicians and other health-care professionals. He is an AAAS fellow, a MetLife fellow, a former president of the Society for Economic Botany and serves on the boards of many conservation organizations.

The AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society, publishes the journal Science.

10:57 pm  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

the free mareketplace of ideas.'

Marek J! (Google it) will love the fact that he can now trademark and take ownership of what used to be known as the marketplace.

7:46 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

Jon writes:

"Marek J! (Google it) will love the fact that he can now trademark and take ownership of what used to be known as the marketplace."

There goes Aristotle.

8:37 pm  

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