Taking the lead

By Todd Cohen

America is in retreat, and charities need to help turn it around.

We face huge social problems, yet government cannot or will not fix what is wrong.

Instead, politicians gut social programs and fan the flames of intolerance.

Charities once took on society’s toughest jobs, and pushed to change outdated or misguided public policies.

But charities have fallen prey to a philanthropic-industrial complex that controls charitable funding and policy.

Manipulating the charitable marketplace, an inbred and self-perpetuating axis of foundations, consultants and management-assistance groups bullies charities into playing by its rules.

That cartel spouts righteous and philanthropically-correct doctrine about collaboration, innovation and diversity.

But make no mistake: Control is its game.

So in place of enterprise, teamwork, brutal honesty and forceful advocacy, charities think and act alike, deluded into believing they are independent.

And instead of championing breakthrough rules to strengthen charity and unleash charitable innovation, the recommendations by the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector to the Senate Finance Committee aim to codify conformity.

Change flows from a marketplace that is fair and free.

Charities need to break free from the herd, smash the iron grip of the powerful forces that control philanthropy, and lead the fight for change.

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

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