Tituba’s Revenge is New-York based organizing collective, who describe themselves as “group of anti-capitalist nonprofit workers who are majority queer women of color”. Their work is in conversation with the important interventions over the last decade (plus) about “getting real” about the realities of the nonprofit sector (notably, the work of the Incite Collective, here).
A few years back, they published a paper, the “Guide for the Exploited Nonprofit Worker”, that busted myths about nonprofit working conditions, and specifically nonprofit unionization – a conversation that has been more and more present in the Quebec community sector. Check out the full PDF below for their full list of myths- but here are some of the myths we found most interesting.
“Nonprofit workers are not concerned about their salaries because they care and they are doing something that they love.”
As a largely feminized profession, nonprofit service is devalued because nonprofit workers, who are majority women, are seen as having the “natural ability” to care for others and thus higher wages as compensation for our work is not necessary. Because we are often connected to the communities we work with, and because we work with limited resources and inefficient bureaucratic structures of the workplace, we often end up over- utilizing our own emotional capacity to complete our jobs. Nonprofit workers are workers too who face workplace issues and labor abuse.
“Nonprofit workers should not leave their clients or strike if they truly care.”
The dependent relationship between the communities in need (the poor, people of color, women, people with disabilities, queer youth, etc) and nonprofit services is not a responsibility of individual nonprofit worker, but rather, a result of the capitalist development in which people cannot meet their own needs and are forced to reproduce for themselves (e.g. childcare, shelter, housework, emotional self-care) without adequate means and resources. Since the structural neglect on reproductive resources is causing the need in the first place, it is not possible or sustainable for nonprofit workers to be the only ones held accountable to their clients’ welfare. The structural problems of capitalism need to be challenged through collective struggles from below.
“Nonprofits are healing communities.”
The structures of nonprofits are hierarchical and bureaucratic. The management does not exist to create “healing communities” but to control the workplace. Individual managers or executive directors may be nice, well-intentioned people, but their personality or intention does not eradicate the nonprofit structure or the crisis of capitalism itself. A nonprofit is like any other workplace within capitalism.
“Nonprofits are progressive because they participate in public actions, rallies, and marches.”
Nonprofits benefit from being in public actions by utilizing the publicity to increase chances of funding and attract potential clients. They use public actions to support their own organizational agendas instead of building revolutionary movements. Nonprofits bribe people to participate in public actions by giving people metro cards, food, and “economic incentives.” The employees are given “credit hours” or required to participate in the actions as part of their job obligations. The primary goal of nonprofits is not to politicize people to be autonomous organizers or activists who operate outside of the model of community services organizing.