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Opinion/About change – First things first

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By Todd Cohen

Charity is on the edge.

Sniffing blood, lawmakers and regulators have got private foundations in their cross-hairs.

Many foundations work hard and do good, but others have grown fat and smug.

Instead of working with charities to find out what they really need, many foundations force-feed them philanthropically correct and often arbitrary directives about focus, impact and accountability.

Yet they fail to heed their own advice.

And faced with criticism about big pay and small payouts, they circle the wagons.

To salvage any hope of getting a voice in regulatory change, private foundations had better get their heads out of the sand, take stock of themselves and mend what is wrong.

And while private foundations are the targets now, all charities are at risk and need to shape up quickly.

Self-improvement is a huge task, but it is critical, particularly in a tough economy, with resources shrinking and hard-hearted politicians and taxpayers taking it for granted that charity will take on society’s nasty jobs.

Unless it can show it is responsible, open, lean, flexible and able to change, charity will face the wrath of donors and critics fed up with its double standard and unearned sense of entitlement.

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