Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion: 501(c)(3) public charities and (c)(4) organizations

Join us Thursday, March 24, at 3:00 pm for a panel discussion on 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) organizations.

Many grassroots organizing groups have set up 501 (c)(4) social welfare organizations to complement their 501(c)(3) charitable work. Setting up a (c)(4) organization allows groups to engage in the political process and to endorse candidates and, possibly, to enhance their ability to move politicians to support their group’s goals. Yet forming a (c)(4) may also entail new organizational demands and complexities, and electoral work may differ significantly from a group’s previous modes of organizing and advocacy. What are the advantages and drawbacks of doing (c)(4) work? Does it change a group’s social change goals? How do both these forms limit what you can do? 


Margaret Post, Research Assistant Professor, Clark University

Jawanza Williams, Director of Organizing, VOCAL-NY

Gara LaMarche, Senior Fellow, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College of New York, CUNY


John Krinsky, Professor, City College/Graduate Center, CUNY

Link to register

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Paper Discussion

Conceptualizing Co-optation with Dr. Sofia Fenner

Join us Thursday, March 10, at 3:00 pm for a paper presentation by Sofia Fenner on whether opposition parties “sell out” when they join authoritarian governments.

This is the first workshop of the semester under the continuing theme of “Insider-Outsider Strategies”.


Co-optation is widely recognized as a pillar of durable authoritarian rule. The conventional story is straightforward: rulers offer benefits to opposition groups, who in turn agree to “sell out,” becoming part of the system and setting aside their anti-authoritarian aspirations. The empirical record, however, tells a different tale: co-opted parties often do not behave in the way that existing theories expect. In this chapter, I lay out an alternative account of co-optation that acknowledges its potential power while remaining agnostic as to its specific consequences.

About the author

Sofia Fenner is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Colorado College. Her research focuses on authoritarianism and its opponents in Southwest Asia and North Africa. Her first monograph, Coercive Distribution (with Michael Albertus and Dan Slater), was published in 2017 as part of Cambridge University Press’ Elements Series. Her next book, Shouting in a Cage: Life after Co-optation in North Africa, is under contract with Columbia University Press.

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