Risky business

By Todd Cohen

Charities need to lose their blinders and refocus on the basics.

Demand for charitable services is growing as our economy slides, and as government cuts social spending and tightens its policing of charities.

Yet, infected with philanthropic correctness and smitten with their own image and legacy, many foundations, corporations and individual donors cannot see charities’ urgent need for support to strengthen their operations, effectiveness and accountability.

And fearing the loss of support, many charities will not push their boards or funders to address their true needs.

A disturbing indicator of the woes facing charities is a jump in the health-benefit costs they charge to their workers, reported by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies.

To avoid hurting clients, and unable to raise more money, charities are shifting more health costs to employees, eroding a key attraction to nonprofit work, the report says.

The cure for what ails charities is common sense, a rare commodity in the charitable marketplace.

Instead of groveling, charities must fight for what they need to fend for themselves and thrive.

And instead of preaching and preening, funders need to look and listen.

Without serious change, charities will remain at serious risk.

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

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