Question: What do you get when you cross a worker cooperative with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit?
Answer: A worker self-directed nonprofit!
The inefficiencies of conventional nonprofit organizations have been the subject of many jokes, and even an entire blog depicting such dysfunction through animated gifs. It’s time to question conventional nonprofit management practices and strive toward innovation. The Sustainable Economies Law Center has put a great deal of thought into structuring as a worker self-directed nonprofit, and we are excited to share our model with others, gather feedback, and learn about how other nonprofit organizations are implementing workplace democracy.
In mission-driven organizations, it is often the workers who are best positioned to sense the needs of the organization, its constituents, and the community. The workers may therefore be in the best position to drive the strategy, program design, and day-to-day work. At the same time, 501(c)(3) nonprofits are designed to be governed by independent boards of directors. How do you strike a balance between worker self-direction and the board's legal governance duties? We'll share our thoughts on how to navigate this issue and some of the strategies we have used to be an effective worker-led organization.
The current economic and ecological crises mandate that we build adaptable and efficient organizations to respond, and worker self-directed organizations may prove to be incredibly agile in this regard. Plus, they are great places to work!
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