Opinion/Philanthropy Journal – Shaking up is hard to do

By Todd Cohen

True to its land-grant roots, N.C. State University is gearing up to reach out to serve nonprofits in our state.

Teaming up with nonprofits to help drive its teaching, research and public service, NCSU’s new nonprofit institute also aims to shake up philanthropy.

That is good news because charity needs to change.

Fueled by new wealth, technology and entrepreneurial know-how, many charities have worked to be smarter and leaner.

But many other charities will not try new ways of doing business.

That is a big mistake because we face huge social problems.

Politicians talk a lot about vision and leadership, but can offer only tax cuts, war and other hard-hearted policies that cater to voters’ most selfish instincts.

While it never will command the resources of government, only charity can push government, business and individual donors and citizens to invest what is needed to fix and change society.

Yet despite isolated progress, charity fears changing even itself.

Many donors are hooked on the power their wealth gives them.

And many charities will not question donors for fear of losing their support, and will not steal time from their daily work to step back and think ahead.

Charity will change, and act as a strong social watchdog and catalyst, only when it is willing to lead.

By taking on the big job of developing leaders who can help nonprofits fix themselves and then push for social change, the new nonprofit institute at NCSU can fill a huge void in our state.

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