In Whose Interest (Summer 2006)

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Do national nonprofits advocating on behalf of politically or economically marginalized people and communities truly represent their interests or those of their donors? Do they make democracy stronger through providing vehicles for citizen engagement in policy making or are they yet another elitist mechanism of a closed system? Cindy Gibson looks at how these groups are structured, finding that many of them make a clear distinction between their constituents (those on whose behalf they work) and their members (those who contribute). She also finds high degrees of “professionalized” strategies and some indication that the issues they take up are arguably less about bread and butter concerns and more about the concerns of those who already have their fill of the staples of life. by Cynthia M. Gibson