Nonprofits in a World of Shifting Power

Staying relevant means bridging Old Power and New Power.

Illustration by Merit Myers

What Does Old vs. New Power Look Like?

Old Power in the Nonprofit World

New Power in the Nonprofit World

Mounting Pressure on Nonprofits

While Old Power is asking what are the best ways to defend the Constitution from erosion, New Power is asking, “Why must we pledge loyalty to a document that was racist to begin with?”

While Old Power is asking how to drive more philanthropic money to racial justice, New Power is asking whether philanthropies are complicit in the very racial disparities they are trying to mitigate.

While Old Power is trying to win the game, New Power is pointing out that the players themselves may be compromised and demanding a whole new set of rules.

While Old Power is asking, “How can we do more good,” New Power is asking “How can we do less evil?”

“What is our power for? Are we putting it to the best use? Should we wield it, share it, or cede it?”

Power Need Not Be Binary

Embracing Both Old and New Power

As more and more organizations become bilingual in both forms of power, we can start to see the chasm that divides Old Power institutions and New Power movements as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

A First Step in Addressing the Challenge



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