Loosen the cartel’s grip

By Todd Cohen

Congress can do charities a big favor.

By creating tougher rules and smarter incentives, lawmakers can help charities restore their independence, strength and trust.

A cartel of funders, management-assistance groups and consultants has hijacked charity, stunting its growth and slowing social progress.

Well-heeled funders force-feed their philanthropically-correct doctrine to charities desperate for support and weakened by clueless boards.

Management-assistance groups hooked on grants preach their funders’ ideas to charities that gladly pay to be converted.

And consultants, working both sides of the street, keep charities on the cartel’s leash.

Now, claiming to speak for charity before Congress, self-anointed gatekeepers righteously defend their turf, arguing that charity can and should police itself.

The gatekeepers cannot have it both ways.

Charity is hurting precisely because an unchecked cartel has bullied charities not to think or act on their own.

Social progress depends on a charitable marketplace that is open and even-handed, giving charities a fair chance to take risks and thrive.

Unchaining that marketplace from manipulation by the cartel will require strong rules and incentives for funders to give away more money, for charities to be more enterprising, and for funders and charities alike to be more open, honest and effective.

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

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