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A Good Cause

A Good Cause
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The V3 Campaign will make the voice of the social enterprise and non-profit movement heard, its value realized, and its votes counted in EVERY election.

Voice, Value and Votes at V3

by Lorena Audra Rutens



He stood center stage at the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management symposium, incredulous. “I just didn’t get it. Here was our chance. For once, one of us was sitting at the head of the United Way table with the all-powerful funding wand. Yet everyone continued to fight over resources amongst ourselves rather than come together to reshape the entire system. That was what we needed to do. Unite. Collaborate. Be strategic about how we use our resources, so that ultimately we could produce the best results possible,” Robert Egger, founder of D.C. Central Kitchen and now also of the new V3 campaign, said to the hundreds of rapt Chicagoan nonprofit leaders.  

In a surprisingly calm manner despite delivering a keynote speech, Egger continued, “Being a founder of a nonprofit myself, I know of the funding and advocacy struggles our nonprofits face. But I also know the only we can move forward is as one. My experience leading the United Way of D.C. was the impetus for me to create a new campaign to encourage the unification of the nonprofit sector. We must demand collectively to be recognized as a powerful political, social, and economic force.

“This campaign is called V3. It is a campaign devoted to increasing the collaboration of the nonprofit sector. It is about lobbying political candidates as a cohesive body and requesting a few important but dynamic changes in how our sector does business.   

“One: Understand the true value and economic power of the nonprofit or third sector. We hold:


$3 Trillion in Assets

Nonprofit organizations hold assets that, when combined, make them one of the top 10 economies on the planet.

80 Million Volunteers Annually

In addition to contributions, nonprofits channel the equally valuable commodity of TIME. 90 percent of incoming college freshmen have performed community service. As the 80 million “baby boomers” grow older, utilizing their valuable life skills will fall to the nonprofit sector.

$300 Billion in Annual Donations

70 percent of American households donate to nonprofits, and value the uniquely American ability to deduct those contributions on their annual tax return.

14 Million Employees

The nonprofit sector employs 7 percent of the American workforce, making it a major economic stimulator in every community. The nonprofit sector is one of the top 3 employers in many states, and it contributes billions in employment taxes annually. (source:


“Two: We want to hear a direct answer when we ask future political candidates how they will partner with and strengthen our sector if elected to office. We ask just two simple, yet important questions that can no longer be a campaign afterthought. These are:


Please describe your personal and professional experiences with nonprofit organizations.


Please provide three specific ways in which, if elected, you would partner with and strengthen the nonprofit sector to achieve the goals of your campaign.


The V3 Campaign will make the voice of the social enterprise and non-profit movement heard, its value realized and its votes counted in EVERY election. Our goal: To develop a new generation of political leaders who understand the economic contributions of social service organizations, who recognize the potential of social enterprise and micro-credit to reinvigorate communities and who include the sector in their plans to rebuild the economy. YOUR work ― the issues YOU care about ― will only be addressed when we stand together. We need you to help us ask EVERY candidate for higher office to outline their plans to strengthen the social enterprise and non-profit movement. The time is NOW.” (Quoted directly from:


As Robert Egger exited the stage, I grabbed his hand and said, “This initiative—it is something I have been touting for years! Our sector deserves recognition for the true value it contributes to society. We need to demand more from ourselves but also in turn demand more from supporters. At times I have felt patriarchal and archaic views of “charity” are too ingrained in public mentality to change. I have almost considered leaving the sector entirely…but it would break my heart.”

Despite the long line of people anxiously waiting to speak to him, Egger held my gaze and smiled. “This is the reason we have to grow this campaign — not just in D.C., but all over the nation. Young and old nonprofit leaders need to become a dynamic part of political and economic conversations. We need people with your passion to keep this moving!”


So now I ask you, dear reader … Will you join V3?


TO LEARN MORE: Join the growing network of people who are working together at to get the Voice, Value and Votes of the nonprofit sector recognized in every election.


Have a good cause close to your heart? A story about how a non-profit has helped you? An idea you’d like to bring into the light on ways to help others? E-mail our A Good Cause Editor, Lorena Audra Rutens, and tell her about it. Write "A Good Cause" in the subject line. She just might feature you in our next issue.


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