By Todd Cohen
Charities are in a bind.
They work hard and do good, but often lack the clout to make change happen.
Charities account for 1 in 20 dollars in the economies of 35 countries, yet they can be marginal players in shaping civic policy, says a new report by The Johns Hopkins University,
Charities, the report says, face hurdles involving their visibility, legitimacy, sustainability, effectiveness and ability to form partnerships needed for social and economic progress.
So while they play a key role in meeting critical needs, charities often cannot meet their own needs.
And they can find it tough to move beyond addressing social crises and also work to root out the causes of our social and economic ills.
Civic health depends on a thriving civic sector, yet civic organizations are hurting, scrambling to make ends meet with stopgap funding and good intentions.
While it can be tough simply to pay the bills and deliver services, charities must find ways to sustain themselves.
But charities alone cannot ensure society’s civic health.
That is the job of many groups, ranging from government and business to academia, media and organized philanthropy.
Those groups need to work harder to understand the role that charities play, and to support and strengthen the charitable sector.
Good deeds are the lifeblood of civil society, which depends on people and organizations pitching in and working together to build just and caring communities.
We tend to take charities for granted, expecting them to do our unpleasant jobs but failing to recognize their needs.
By treating charities as partners, civic change is a job we can shoulder together.