My family of origin likes to argue about words. I still remember with pride the first time I bested my father on a word definition. It was actually pretty recently and my children scathingly said I took unfair advantage of his advancing age but — look, you take what you can get in this life.
So if I can claim editorial prerogative to declare a word-of-the-day or even of the century for this sector it is “grassroots.” The meaning of the term should be sacred to nonprofits and we should be crystal-clear about what it means.
Grassroots groups are organizations that do not just reflect the voices of those people most affected by the issue being addressed but are responsive to and largely led by these constituencies. That is what makes them powerful — enviable. It’s a strategic advantage to legitimately claim a grassroots base, as well it should be in a democracy.
And we should be the last sector that abuses the term since the purpose of the sector is all about helping people to associate to, as organized groups, take on activities and concerns that are aimed at the public good. It is our particular strategic advantage because it is potentially our core strength and yet many nonprofits let this powerful asset waste away and remain unclaimed.
I have attached an article linked an article below that illustrates the power of grassroots organizing in the area of health access.
We need similar local-to-national movements in many other sectors — I don’t need to tell you this. In a country suffering so deeply from a kind of disappointed democratic deficit, these projects where ordinary people can contribute in substantive ways to the best interests of their communities are infectious.
In fact, let’s plant some viruses and make a pandemic of it!
We want to hear from you about the real grassroots work you do — tell us a story that will inspire and inform.
Or — if you are not yet claiming this birthright of the sector, why not?