Nonprofit panel’s blind faith and pandering risk backlash

By Todd Cohen

The Panel on the Nonprofit Sector is blowing an unprecedented opportunity for breakthrough change.

Convened by Independent Sector in answer to a congressional invitation to recommend charitable regulatory changes, the panel had a rare chance to help right a charitable marketplace skewed by abusive philanthropic wealth, power and correctness.

Instead, the panel has parroted the party line of the philanthropic-industrial complex it serves.

The panel calls for easy plugs to holes in charity rules and policing.

But despite foundations’ reported $3.5 million underwriting of its work, or more likely because of it, the panel simply has ignored glaring inequities like the paltry rate at which foundations, based on their assets, are required to make grants.

Deluding itself that it can protect charity from politicians up in arms over charitable scandals and excess, the panel pays lip service to charities’ need to better police themselves.

But blind faith in business as usual runs the risk of serious regulatory backlash.

Instead of pandering to political bullies, the panel should push government to be an even-handed traffic cop keeping the charitable marketplace open, fair and free.

Competition, not smug and unbridled philanthropic power, should guide the exchange of charitable supply and demand.

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

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