YES! Risks Alienating Potential Funders to Deliver Strong Issue

Spring 2012; Source: YES! Magazine

The entire Spring issue of YES! Magazine is devoted to the theme of “9 Strategies to End Corporate Rule.” Whether one agrees or disagrees with the solutions laid out, one has to give YES! plaudits for courage in contrast to other journals and outlets that might fear alienating a potential funder. Below, we list all nine strategies, with some commentary on the strategies that have more or less explicit connections to the broad nonprofit and social sector that Nonprofit Quarterly covers.

  1. Amend the constitution to end corporate personhood.
  2. Dive into grassroots campaigns: Madeline Ostrander writes about the grassroots organizing campaign that stopped the Keystone XL Pipeline, including the work of 350.org, which she says led the coalition that got President Obama to reverse his position on the pipeline, notwithstanding the administration’s close relationship with the TransCanada oil company.
  3. Hold corporations accountable to our laws: Robert Weissman of Public Citizen addresses strategies activists can pursue, such as civil litigation against corporate wrongdoers, citing the innovative strategies of EarthRights International and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
  4. Get past propaganda.
  5. Support independent media and keep the Internet free: Joseph Torres describes the organizing against the AT&T merger with T-Mobile, including AT&T’s wooing nonprofit groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which he says received $50,000 from AT&T and came out in favor of the merger—but he doesn’t describe the important and hopefully growing role of a relatively independent nonprofit media alternative to the for-profit media outlets.
  6. Protect the commons: The editor of Radical America, Paul Buhle shares a delightful history of Robin Hood throughout history, ending with a picture of British protesters advocating a Robin Hood tax that NPQ has covered in the past.
  7. Vote. Protect our democracy: YES! web editor Brooke Jarvis takes on issues about elections, honing in on the need for enhanced disclosure of contributions to—and expenditures of—purportedly independent political organizations, a theme often discussed on the web pages of Nonprofit Quarterly.
  8. Make your dollars matter: Rebecca Leisher of YES! describes the accomplishments of cities, churches, and universities in “Move Your Money” efforts. From the Tellus Institute in Boston, Marjorie Kelly touts the possibilities of worker ownership and nonprofit cooperatives, suggesting that there is a viable “alternative to capitalism.”
  9. Get creative to raise awareness: Freelancer Sven Eberlein promotes being sassy, lauding strategies such as the Billboard Liberation Front in the San Francisco Bay Area, which edits and “improves” corporate billboard messages; Reverend Billy and his “Church of Stop Shopping,” which held an Easter service in a JP Morgan Chase branch in Manhattan to protest Chase’s financing of mountaintop removal strip mining in Appalachia; and the Backbone Campaign, which organized a flash mob singing and dancing in a Target branch in Seattle in protest against Target’s $150,000 donation to an anti-gay gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota—all acts of creative disruption.

YES! might not get a lot of future donations from JP Morgan Chase, TransCanada, or Target, but the issue of the magazine, like some of the organizing strategies it advocates, is a sassy piece to get discussion going about what can and should be done about excessive concentrations of corporate power in our society. –Rick Cohen