Ep 133: Choosing the Right Nonprofit Business Model (with Rinku Sen)

nonprofits are messyThe nonprofit sector grows by leaps and bounds every year. In 2019, there were over 100,000 501c3 applications and the overwhelming majority of them sailed through. The paperwork may be a pain, but let’s just say that the U.S. government is not terribly selective on which they approve.

But does it always make sense to organize as a 501c3? What is the difference between movements like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, or Women’s March – and a formal organization? What are the limitations and benefits of forming an organization? What questions should you ask yourself when deciding whether you need a c3, c4 or even a for-profit LLC?

My guest today is Rinku Sen, a writer and social justice strategist. Her books Stir it Up and The Accidental American theorize a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems.

Rinku joins us today to talk through these questions. We explore how to determine whether your current organizational model is working or constraining you, what other models exist, how they work, and dissect the pros and cons of building institutions. Our discussion was fascinating. Hope you enjoy it.

About:

Rinku is a writer and social justice strategist. She is formerly the Executive Director of Race Forward and was Publisher of their award-winning news site Colorlines. Under Sen’s leadership, Race Forward generated some of the most impactful racial justice successes of recent years, including Drop the I-Word, a campaign for media outlets to stop referring to immigrants as “illegal,” resulting in the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many more outlets changing their practice. She was also the architect of the Shattered Families report, which identified the number of kids in foster care whose parents had been deported.

Her books Stir it Up and The Accidental American theorize a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems. As a consultant, Rinku has worked on narrative and political strategy with numerous organizations and foundations, including PolicyLink, the ACLU and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. She serves on numerous boards, including the Women’s March, where she is Co-President and the Foundation for National Progress, publisher of Mother Jones magazine.

Links