Keynote: Robert Egger

Keynote: Robert Egger

It's a snowy day in Denver! YNPN leaders from around the country are gathered to share best practices.
YNPN Denver leader Sarah Fisher mentions that the Denver chapter is interested in moving towards incorporating more advocacy into their efforts.

Robert Egger (@robertegger on twitter) is the founder and President of DC Central Kitchen and leader of the V3 campaign.
Robert feels like he's the "YNPN stalker." Since day 1 he has been a passionate believe in YNPN. He believes in our generation, and that his generation is not moving into action as it should.

"If the times aren't ripe, ripen the times." - Dorothy Height

Too often we listen to policies or ideas that are outdated and irrelevant.

Robert is devoted to the evolution of the nonprofit sector, he believes that the nonprofit sector is an integral part of the American life.
As a sector we are very good at moving people out of danger or poverty into a place of safety or progress. But we haven't taken the larger sectors of society to make a fundamental shift.

When Robert first encountered YNPN, "the young part was right on, the professional part was in question."

Robert praises the members in the audience that have become nonprofit leaders, like Rosetta Thurman.

"To what end? What are you doing to do?"

"It's time to get serious and professional."

"Below you there is 80 million young people, 50 million in school, and more than half are not white.  They will be looking to you to lead them out of this and into something new and powerful."

"How are you supporting one another as you come up? You have to use this network and support one another."

"A lot of what we do in the nonprofit sector is a way to replace what was once part of the agricultural society."

An entire generation of powerful, college-educated white women were driven into a silo of "acceptable" work in charity.

In the 1970s, young people were politically active, especially young women. They had ideas to start nonprofits. But they ran into a foundation world run by white men with money from other white men. The foundations only provided small grants with short renewal cycles, so as to monitor and preserve the status quo.

MLK was heading to DC to lead a campaign for economic justice when he was assassinated in Tennessee.

Because women who started nonprofits also tended to have wealthy husbands, the nonprofits were setup to underpay and underbenefit their employees.

Why aren't political candidates paying more attention to the nonprofit sector? How do we elevate this opportunity? How do we help legislators to see what we could be?

To recognize the dream of a new nonprofit sector, we must elect people who recognize the new nonprofit sector.

90% of college freshman have done community service. We have an entire generation who is civically involved. But as a country we haven't thought about what we do with this generation coming up.

  • Robert admit he wanted to be a hippie as a 10-year-old in 1968. :)
  • Robert thinks our generation's moment is going to be social activism and social enterprise.
  • Nonprofit leaders need to emphasize their love for the mission as well as their need for a fair living wage.
  • Robert suggests a restructured and renewable tax deduction system to encourage people to invest in nonprofits and good causes.
  • Robert hopes our generation and the one behind us can make this leap where the lines between business and nonprofit are blurred.
  • Robert predicts bigger state and local budget deficits on July 1st. Too many legislators look at the nonprofit sector as the biggest pot of untaxed revenue. He predicts flawed legislation taxing properties of nonprofits.

The mayor in Denver is one of the only that has an Office of Strategic Partnerships, which includes relationships with nonprofits. And now he's running for governor. Robert sees great potential in having a candidate that drafts policies that recognize and encourage the potential of nonprofit organizations as part of an overall economic strategy.

35 senate races, 36 governors races, and 486 congressional races.... Robert points out this is a great year to get the nonprofit sector engaged.

SCOTUS decision gave corporations a first amendment right... but in the fine print, nonprofits were disenfranchised.
"We want to be free from the bondage of the grant cycle."

Robert asks that we not be complacent. That we be the kinds of leaders that sees the future and marches out to meet it.
The work at DC Central Kitchen is also about raising the dialogue. How do we feed our elders AND value them?

  • "No more throwaway people. No more throwaway business." (Robert's energy today is INCREDIBLE!)
  • "I don't understand why we have yet to rise up."
  • Robert believes the green movement is the tip of a worldwide yearn for a new system, a new perspective.
  • "We don't make as much as our for profit colleagues, but we sure are happier."

The real potential of social enterprise is as a real alternative to charity. We need to reward businesses that have great policies.
Our generation is the first with the real power to transform the country and the world.

In the UK, there is a Minister of the Third Sector. Looking for a Minister of Social Enterprise.

Q: Can we come together as funders and fundees? Can we come together as fundees across diverse groups? A: Charity in America is still based on culture of "life insurance for the next life." There is an unequal power dynamic that we need to be rid of. If you and I had competing dry cleaners, every night we would shoot eye daggers at each other and I would wish ill on your business. But if someone tried to regulate small business, you and I might put aside our grievances and joined forces. We need to explore that in the nonprofit sector.

  • "There's no leadership vacuum. Are you kidding!?"
  • "The era of Extra is over. So what becomes of us now?"
  • The new generation wants to volunteer: "Use me!"
  • "Don't wait for permission. Be ready. Slings and arrows will come when you try to make change. It will hurt. They will call you names."

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