After a brief discussion during community comment of the idea of the CMS’s assuming 501c3 non-profit status, which was introduced at the CMS general organizing meeting at Takoma Station last Saturday, March 16, several attendees asked for further information on the implications of such a step. Accordingly, I have compiled some materials (attached), which I am forwarding, in order to assist us all in making a fully informed decision on our future as a democratic grassroots movement. Because of a lack of awareness of the ramifications of this step, plans are very far along to make it a reality. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that all CMS members have a chance to weigh in as soon as possible on the need to have more comprehensive discussion within CMS before the decision is fully implemented. Please share your thoughts, after reviewing the attached materials
Please note that, although the attached materials do not discuss the measures, there are ways of establishing fund-receiving and dispensing entities that do not entail the restrictions on democratic activity that characterize groups having formal non-profit legal status.
Many fine progressives embrace taking the step of making their groups non-profits because the corporate world has successfully marginalized voices that challenge the idea that a government-sanctioned legal status confers a kind of mystical universal legitimacy. Unfortunately, there are strong arguments that such status confers legitimacy only in the eyes of corporate funding groups who correctly see the non-profit as a “safe” way to look charitable and progressive because the non-profit status by its very restrictive nature hamstrings the activity of the progressive group and can even influence it to behave in ways that subvert its purposes.
Significantly, the conference on this subject that was sponsored by INCITE!, was not covered by WPFW in 2004, even though it drew hundreds of participants from around the world, spawned a very-well reviewed book, The Revolution Will Not be Funded, and generated much attention in progressive circles and media at the time. WBAI, a Pacifica sister station in NYC, did cover the conference.
Thank you for your consideration of this urgent request that you take time from your busy lives to at least scan these materials.
Starr Bowie, Co-coordinator, CMS Program Committee*
*Organization for purposes of identification only