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Opinion/Philanthropy Journal – Charities need to take risks

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By Todd Cohen

Charities, civic society’s workforce, need to be our entrepreneurs as well.

To fix what is wrong in America, charities have to dig deeper, take chances and get their supporters and partners more involved in their work.

Americans can be generous and caring, but fixing what is broken in our society will take more than writing a check or volunteering a few hours a week.

We need to invest in change.

Despite our charity, we can be selfish and out of touch.

Ignoring the mess we have made at home, we cheer U.S. aggression abroad, hooked on our daily fix of reality TV beamed from Baghdad.

Americans have got to remove our blinders and roll up our sleeves.

While charities have a tough job delivering services and paying bills, social progress depends on thinking beyond business as usual.

Charities must plan ahead, generate new support, enlist hands-on volunteers and work with one another and with government and business.

Charities need to get their boards more involved in raising money, mapping strategy and contributing know-how.

And funders and donors should work harder to understand what charities really need.

Focused on serving clients and meeting the payroll, many charities lack the time and energy to figure out how to do a better job.

But thinking and planning are critical, and charities need to carve out time and find the resources to begin to map their futures.

To do that, they need to work more closely with board members, funders, donors and partners.

Politicians, business leaders and academics talk a lot about change but are mired in protecting turf.

Building a more just society depends on a civic sector that will thrive only when charities and their supporters step up and take the risk of investing in change.

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