Opinion/About change – Time to speak up

By Todd Cohen

Charity should wake up.

Financial scandals and fat paychecks have sparked criticism and calls for tougher policing of charity.

But other than some talk, charities are in denial and have failed to tackle abuses and excess eroding the trust they need.

Charities cannot simply count on support, but must show donors and volunteers they can be lean, nimble and effective.

Charities also must be up-front about who they are and what they do, and share financial, operating and program information on web sites and with those who ask for it.

Restoring trust also will require losing the muzzles charities use to keep from criticizing wrongdoing in the charitable world.

In a recent speech to North Carolina nonprofits, Emmett Carson, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation, warned that the charitable world is in crisis and hurting itself by failing to talk about, learn from and correct its own problems.

Yet, as Carson suggested, instead of cleaning up their own act, charities used their collective clout to fight recent moves to keep foundations from counting salaries and other overhead as grants they are required to make.

It is time for charity to end its conspiracy of silence, and fix itself.

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