The purpose-driven voluntary sector

I’ve always had reservations about and similar phrasings. Nathan Smith’s alternative delights me:

I like to call this the “purpose-driven voluntary sector,” as distinct from (a) the profit-driven voluntary sector, i.e. the private sector, and (b) the purpose-driven coercive sector, i.e., the public sector.

Don’t forget the (AKA , to varying degrees). Of course there’s a fair amount of overlap.

The most exciting parts of the purpose-driven voluntary sector involve peer production.

Smith also used this terminology in an excellent comment on the nonprofit boom last October:

Some labor economists have distinguished the “intrinsic rewards” (love of the work itself) and the “extrinsic rewards” (money, benefits) from working.

By working for a non-profit, you may sacrifice some extrinsic rewards for some intrinsic rewards. As people get more and more affluent, it makes sense that more and more people will be willing to make that trade-off.

I think of non-profits as the “purpose-driven voluntary sector.” It’s distinct from the pure profit sector, officially dedicated to profits, and the government sector, which is ultimately financed through coercion. If more and more public goods can be provided through the purpose-driven voluntary sector, government can shrink.

2 Responses

  1. […] ‘purpose driven voluntary sector.‘ Wordy, but I like it. […]

  2. Ben Tremblay says:

    “Kleptocracy” nails it, thanks!

    Traditionally the #oligarchs survey the field for competition, zero-sum game in mind. (Yes, of course M$ and FUD … paradigmatic.) The point our bright children have internalized is this: we cannot further projects that exceed our capabilities. In an eat/be-eaten scenario positioning is paramount.

    Not having social cred in an online conversation is like showing up to a cocktail party with severe body-odor … it doesn’t much matter what you have to contribute to the conversation.

    Oh, hey, I came up with this on Twitter yesterday evening: “”Business is a conversation and $$ is the punchline to a joke”, of course. And with personality politics like in high-school we end up with economic activity that enforces culturla xenophobia”. (Ok, my previous version was 140 or less, but point stands.)

    I did a survey of social-justice sites in this oil-wealthy city … abominable … humiliating to the industry … barely Web0.7a at best.

    All of this is precisely what I realized mid-September 1973, when I pondered how our projection of power entailed tumbling democratic governments: if democracy doesn’t count, what matter my ability?

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