by Stacey Rutland
Scarcity mindsets and models drive most modern economic theory: collectively, we believe that wealth and resources are finite, that someone else’s win is our loss, and that companies exist to best their competitors, or fail trying.
It is easy to observe this mindset within the culture of for-profit companies, where success is measured only in profits made. However, it is more surprising to note that scarcity mindset pervades the nonprofit sector as well. For better or worse, the nonprofit world of social justice organizations often operate in the same limited-resource framework as for-profit businesses: nonprofit organizations with the same mission often see other nonprofits as competitors for finite resources; organizations view themselves as creating a “product” for a specific set of customers. Nonprofit organizations seek success metrics in the same way that for-profit companies seek margins: we want the largest email lists, the most volunteers, the highest number of donations. And when we achieve these things, we hold them close.
This mindset can be observed within most nonprofit networks, including those working to advance a basic income: Most of the work being done across basic income organizations is siloed and disparate, with minimal communication and coordination between them. Similarly, there is little to no collaboration or coordination between basic income organizations and those working in other areas of social and economic justice.
But what if we paused for moment, and switched our mindset? What if we agreed that on some level, we’re all fighting for the same thing, and that a win for one of us can be a win for all of us?
Former Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has famously advocated for adopting an abundance mindset when it comes to our collective national consciousness. What we hope to achieve — by creating a Social Justice Alliance — is the ability to reframe the way nonprofits work together to advance their collective missions.
Many social and economic justice organizations aspire to create a measure of economic independence on behalf of those for whom they advocate. Whether the goal at hand is racial equality, LGBTQ rights, criminal justice reform, or any other number of issues, a large measure of success for the people these organizations are fighting for has to do with increases in their economic opportunity and independence.
Herein lies the unique perspective of those fighting for a universal basic income (UBI): we get to see all social justice issues as threads of the same cloth. Universal basic income is, at its heart, about providing the very same economic opportunity that so many social justice organizations fight for. Advocates for UBI want all people, regardless of age, income, background, race, religion, and sexual or gender expression to have a base of income that gives them the dignity and autonomy to make key life decisions based on their needs and wants, not limited resources and fear. We want all people to have the opportunity to accumulate wealth over generations. We want to provide people with the opportunity to start businesses, buy property, and plan ahead for long-term financial stability.
Because it is universal in nature, all people are included, and all people would inherently benefit. The implementation of UBI helps all social justice organizations in their goals to provide their communities with the economic security and independence that they seek. With UBI, we all win.
At Income Movement, we see an amazing web and overlap of the work that’s happening across a broad array of social justice networks. We see UBI as an umbrella over the heads of every person; it can protect us all from the rains of life. We have the privilege of looking at the work of social justice organizations through the lens of this economic solution.
Because of this unique vantage point, it is the Income Movement Foundation’s goal to help connect organizations and leaders to each other around key economic justice initiatives and programs so that they can explore and create shared roadmaps towards achieving common goals. We believe that to begin this important work, we must reframe how we think about our relationships to one another and the work we do. We must eliminate zero-sum thinking from how we partner and address the issues that will allow more people to live with dignity, opportunity, and safety.
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