Nonprofit sector needs some backbone

By Todd Cohen

America suffers from flawed public policies that charities must change.

In exposing the human poverty that shames our society, Katrina also revealed impoverished social policies developed and perpetuated by government and the philanthropic-industrial complex that controls how charities do business.

Charities call themselves the independent sector, but they are quick to jump when foundations or government agencies bark.

And while they use money and power to bully charities, foundations bow to lawmakers and regulators.

So charities and foundations keep quiet, failing to push for change in public policies underlying human suffering.

For a year, the Bush administration and leaders in Congress have subjected charities to passive-aggressive policymaking.

As “good cop,” Bush and Congressional leaders have offered incentives for charitable giving and support for religious charities.

But as “bad cop,” they have threatened to crack down on charities that lack accountability or dare to question government policies.

Now, as Rick Cohen charges in a guest column, Bush is trying to use charities to mask government’s failed policies and its own lack of accountability.

And charities still muzzle themselves and beg for crumbs.

What is wrong is America will not get fixed until charities grow some backbone and push for change.

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

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