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Opinion/Philanthropy Journal – Charity must adapt

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By Todd Cohen

Charity should get off its high horse.

Despite staking out the high ground, some charities slug it out in the streets and cut deals in backrooms.

Publicly, they tout the rightness of their cause and the purity of their work, and claim to be above politics and business.

Privately, they grub for money and power, trash rivals behind their backs, and use insider connections to court donors and powerbrokers.

Charities have it tough. Pandering to voters in a sour economy, politicians slash social spending, squeezing support but fueling demand for services that charities provide.

To survive, charities must be smart and nimble, adapting to complex change that blurs the lines between business, government and charity.

Charities also must drop the pretense that they breathe refined air, an idea that can blind them to the hurdles they face and the choices they can make.

Existing to fix and change what is wrong in society, charities must figure out how the marketplace works so they can work it to make it work for the people they serve.

By striving to be both civil and savvy, and not trying to fool anyone into thinking they are above the fight to survive, charities can hold their ground while joining hands with one another and with government and business to make our communities better places to live and work.

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