Temperature rising

By Todd Cohen

Charities need to get rowdy.

They can start by ditching philanthropic correctness, which stifles the independent thought and action required for progress and innovation.

Charities cannot afford to pander to funders and other groups that are quick to tell them how to operate but will not share the risk or burden of making change happen.

In fighting harder for what they believe in, charities are likely to upset some people in high places.

Last winter, the Republican National Committee pushed the Federal Election Commission to subject nonprofits speaking out on policy to rules governing political committees, limiting their ability to raise and spend charitable dollars.

While charities were not specifically targeted, they also were not exempted.

The FEC decided to apply the rule only to so-called “527” organizations, but some members of Congress still want to apply it to any nonprofit getting involved in policy, equating criticism of public officials’ policy positions with partisan electioneering.

Whatever the outcome, backers of the measure seem to believe charities should go about their business and keep their mouths shut.

Tackling America’s big social problems is the business of charities, which need to speak up, drive public debate and push hard for policy change.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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