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Social investing

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By Todd Cohen

Social progress depends on unfettered thinking, innovation and collaboration.

Government, corporations and nonprofits need to learn to work together in true partnership, and help taxpayers see that investing in progress and policy change is worth it.

While it controls tax revenues and can set public policy, government has failed to lead.

Politicians get elected, and keep their jobs, by not rocking the boat. So they skirt what really ails our communities, whether inadequate disaster preparedness or overwhelming social ills.

Instead of leading, government simply plans to plan, and argues over which groups of needy people will lose public support in the cause of cutting taxes.

So the challenge of creating public-private partnerships that will drive change falls to our nonprofit social entrepreneurs, and to their investors.

Those investors, including charitable foundations, individual and corporate donors, and government, must help nonprofits grow, thrive and lead.

Already poorly equipped to operate efficiently, charities overall have lost donors’ trust because of scandals, lavish pay and self-dealing at some charities.

And many charities, fearing backlash from donors and government, muzzle themselves on controversial social issues.

Yet charities are critical for social change. By strengthening charities, we strengthen our communities.


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

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