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Fighting back

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By Todd Cohen

Charity is under attack, and must defend itself.

A handful of charities including the NAACP say government agencies and congressional offices are menacing them for challenging government policies.

The bullying, using audits, investigations, law-enforcement actions, and threats to cut funding, is part of a larger war on charity, with Congress set to toughen policing of all charities because some break the law or abuse their trust.

Whatever its roots, the war is raising awareness about the critical role charity plays, and handing it a rare chance to heal itself and fight for social change.

Charitable leaders should be leading the charge, pushing charities to clean up their act, and pushing lawmakers to toughen rules and strengthen incentives to help charity be more open, enterprising and effective.

Because it has the ear of the Senate Finance Committee, the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector can be a powerful force for change.

But it must ditch its philanthropic correctness, get tough and speak out against government officials whose intolerance of criticism betrays contempt for the marketplace of ideas they claim to cherish.

If the panel tries to appease charity’s government bullies, charity and the people it serves will be the losers.


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

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