Document Type


Publication Title

University of Miami Law Review

Publication Date

Spring 2019


Twenty-first century activists—inspired by recent social movements and criticisms of the “non-profit industrial complex”—have increasingly sought to avoid pursuing their activism through the hierarchical, professionally managed non-profit corporations that have been the norm for social justice organizations since the 1970s. While many of these activist groups have chosen to remain unincorporated, some activists have been experimenting with new, innovative structures for non-profit organizations, structures that aim to better align activists’ organizations with their values.

This Article presents four models of activist non-profits:

(1) sociocratic non-profits,

(2) worker self-directed non-profits,

(3) hub-and-spoke counter-institutions, and

(4) swarm organizations.

It describes how these approaches increase volunteer participation, deepen organizational democracy, connect more closely with social movements, and aim to maintain accountability among and between organizational members and other stakeholders. It presents legal constraints on the governance structures of these new organizations and concludes with a description of some best practices for these groups and their lawyers.

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