Worker Self-Directed Non-Profit

[Image description: Red text reads: "The truth is, structure matters. How you do your work is equally as important as the work itself." There are five black connecting nodes on the right.]

“Our organizations can be built to harness the full potential of ourselves. They can be built with an understanding that each of us is sometimes a visionary, sometimes an accountant, sometimes a writer, and sometimes something that can’t even be described. Organizations can be built with an understanding that we each hold multiple intersectional identities that give us powerful and unique insights that we can express and operationalize in any variety of ways.” — Simon Mont, Sustainable Economies Law Center

In philanthropy, we don’t often think about organizational structure as a critical part of meeting our mission, living into our values, and ensuring our staff harness their full potential. The truth is structure matters. How you do your work is equally as important as the work itself.

One of the many functions of the nonprofit industrial complex is to recreate the corporate model in ways that don’t allow for collective decision-making and accountability. This keeps our work siloed by way of ‘expertise’ or departments — and makes it difficult to adapt to changing conditions. This is not to say that experts don’t matter or that focused department work is always harmful. But, when the voices of those who are directly impacted are left out of decision-making processes, the organization suffers.

The staff in our organizations often have capabilities beyond what’s in their job description. They’ve developed skills during different times in their careers or have years of lived experience and practice. Tapping into these skills and expertise ultimately makes our work better. Just as the richness of a harmony multiplies with each extra note, our work is strengthened by multiple, differing voices. Building a structure that honors those voices, and moves the work forward, while building a strong culture of mutual support and accountability is the fun part.

Resist as a Worker Self-Directed Nonprofit

In January of 2018, the Resist Board unanimously approved a board resolution that helped us forge our path towards worker self-direction. The board resolution legally allowed us to implement a new dynamic organizational structure, one that moves us closer to our vision and ensures we’re living into our values. In this model, we honor the experiences and gifts offered by the staff collective members and are in greater alignment with the work happening on the ground. The level of trust and support afforded to us by our Board emboldens us to continue pushing the organization towards more transformative work.

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Our model consists of the board of directors, the staff collective, and three external decision making bodies. Each of these groups has specific functions and decision-making powers as delegated to them by the Board of Directors. These groups do not work in silos, members of the Resist community are often part of more than one decision making body. This ensures that all proposals, discussions, and decisions are in conversation with the other moving pieces within the organization.

Read more about what a WSDNP is and what the model looks like for Resist:

Become a Resister

Resist is a foundation that supports people’s movements for justice and liberation. We redistribute resources back to frontline communities at the forefront of change while amplifying their stories of building a better world.