There are many advocacy groups that have goals, such that, if and when their goal is achieved, they would essentially become obsolete and have no need to exist anymore. Hence, there is something of a conflict of interest between a group's stated goal and the generic unstated goal of advocacy groups, i.e. perpetuate their own existence indefinitely. Thus the desire for fundraising might override the desire to be most effective in achieving the stated goal.

I swear I've heard a phrase for this situation before, but it escapes me, and I have been unable to come up with a set of search terms that don't get flooded with unrelated information.

  • 2
    What's wrong with 'conflict of interest'? Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 15:32
  • @chaslyfromUK: I agree. Not sure why you deleted your answer. I'd have upvoted it.
    – Robusto
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 15:56

4 Answers 4


Such a group is doing itself out of a job.

This is a set phrase, but I think do here means swindle:

5.3 British informal Swindle:
a thousand pounds for one set of photos—Jacqui had been done


The group is so successful that it's swindling itself and will lose its own job.

  • I'm a little confused by your answer. I agree with "doing itself out of a job" but that doesn't mean "swindling itself out of a job". You can honestly do yourself out of a job or dishonestly stay in it. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 15:51
  • @chaslyfromUK If you can find a better definition of do then I'm all ears. I think swindle is the closest match here. That part of the answer wasn't really for the OP's benefit, as he knows the phrase (I think); but rather for those to whom the set phrase is unfamiliar.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:11
  • I'm not looking for the term for the process of eliminating the necessity of existing, but rather the term for the tension between self-perpetuation and accomplishing a goal.
    – Joe M
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 15:57
  • Like the team doesn't want to do itself out of a job...
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 16:19

Wouldn't such behaviour not be self-defeating?

Definition of self-defeating in English:

  • (Of an action) preventing rather than achieving a desired result; futile:
    Seldom will so much hot air have been expended by so many for such a meanly self-serving and self-defeating result.

Reference: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/self-defeating


I would say that they have an "ulterior motive".

ulterior motive - a motive, object or aim beyond that which is avowed.


I'm going to do some free-associating, in the hopes that something here gets you unstuck in your search:



playing the game


getting co-opted

not rocking the boat

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