Letter to the editor – Nonprofits dedicated, skilled

To the editor,

I hope you didn’t mean to insult me and millions of other dedicated and skilled individuals who have made “charity” their career, but you did.

Your article implies that “charities” are poorly run and lack leadership, and that if we fix these two problems, we can fix society. Then you go on to say that charities must be more business-like.

Please look around you at the enormous greed and self-importance that business has spawned in this country — from the rapists at Tyco and Enron to the welfare family with a big-screen TV system.

I have made my career in social services and the management of nonprofits, not because it brings notoriety or financial stability but because I have dedicated my life to justice and opportunity.  I can say the same for my colleagues.

I have held many jobs I knew might only last a year, ‘til the funding from the government or foundation ran out.  I have raised funds to keep those programs running, counted every sheet of paper and worked hours and hours without the perks, recognition or possibility of promotion that colleagues in the for-profit sector take for granted.

I have stepped up to leadership positions, rallying volunteers to take more time from their personal lives so our cause could take a step forward.

I have trained volunteers and staff so they could do their jobs more effectively and creatively, then given them the credit.

I have invested in my education and continual professional development so I could run my organization or program more effectively with fewer resources than you ever dreamed of.

I am not unusual.

I feel you think “charities” can fix this country’s problems. I’d much rather that each and every citizen and resident of the U.S. take an honest look at how they contribute to our social ills and make a determined effort to change their own ways.

Lastly, please don’t call us “charities.” For most people, including me, it conjures up images of the noblesse oblige handing out soup to poor orphans and immigrants.

We are organizations that are managed, and have problems and incredible successes, just like businesses large and small, corporations, educational institutions and government agencies.

The citizens of this country have determined they would rather have us doing the work of fulfilling human needs rather than government or business.

Linda Darling is director of development and marketing for Towards Employment in Cleveland, Ohio.

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