What's the NPIC?

“The non-profit industrial complex (or the NPIC) is a system of relationships between, the State (or local and federal governments), the owning classes, foundations, and non-profit/NGO social service & social justice organizations that results in the surveillance, control, derailment, and everyday management of political movements." 

 

- Incite! Women of Color Against Violence,

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded

Why examine the NPIC?

For the past several years, The Revolution Will Not be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, has been a foundational source for JDC in understanding the nonprofit system and philanthropy in North America. The anthology, created by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, outlines how the NPIC:

  • Diverts public monies into private hands through foundations; 

  • Redirects activist energies into career-based modes of organizing instead of mass-based organizing capable of actually transforming society; 

  • Allows corporations to mask exploitative and colonial work practices through "philanthropic" work; 

  • Encourages social movements to model themselves after capitalist structures rather than to challenge them.

 

The NPIC leads to the regulation, surveillance and distancing of social movements’ objectives. In the nonprofit sector, we often see this as:

  • Prioritizing loyalty to funders over systemic change

  • Elevating the voices of experts and professionals instead of the voices and calls of people directly impacted by nonprofit work.

  • Perpetuating hierarchical chains of command and systems that operate independently from the priorities of community members, front-line workers and on-the-ground staff.

Questioning NPIC practices

Questioning the NPIC is anything but an easy task. It requires us in the sector to take a critical look at the various systems under which our charities, nonprofits and social justice organizations operate.

 

Through our work, and the works of many amazing people before us, we will be asking:

  • Why was the nonprofit system originally created? And how does philanthropy impact its activities? 

  • For whom is it created? (e.g. who benefits, who doesn't and why?)

  • How are charities, nonprofits, and social movements limited or encouraged to operate within this framework? 

  • What are the impacts of the NPIC on constituents, workers, and society at large?

  • Is the nonprofit system the best way to create just, equitable, long-term change for all? If not, what role or function should it have?

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