Timothy J. Schmaltz,
ASU Lodestar Center
NMI Instructor /
Nonprofits have a unique character in our society. And it is not just their legal status. This legal status recognizes that nonprofits exist for more than a bottom line. Nonprofits exist for the community.
Most nonprofits don’t think of themselves as a political organization. Yet, nonprofits by their nature are an integral part of any community’s life. Nonprofits fight poverty, provide great venues for art and music, challenge homelessness, help organize civic life, promote the common good and a host of other functions that puts human community and the common good before profits and a narrow band of investors.
Nonprofits have distinctive characteristics such as: focus on mission and community benefit, the work as a calling, a unique satisfaction while making a difference over making money, loyalty and relationships which can create a unique sense of community and cohesiveness among staff, board and volunteers. These special attributes provide a new fertile ground for empowering people being served as a source of great political power.
Nonprofit employees, boards, and volunteers have common goals, shared values, professional interests and motivations for services. This is what keeps them together, not the possibility of profits, or even raises. They share a mission of community service and benefit. In the 21st century, the workplace, especially the nonprofit workplace, takes on a new meaning and cohesiveness. It becomes a community of distinctive interest, of shared values and mission, a voluntary association that has power. It may be un-realized power, but power nevertheless.