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Leadership critical for social progress

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By Todd Cohen

Charity needs new leaders.

Complex and interconnected social ills put vulnerable populations at risk, and threaten to overwhelm our communities.

Yet leadership in the charitable marketplace often seems more concerned with preserving its own power than fixing social wrongs.

The internal problems facing foundations and nonprofits are rooted in an unearned sense of entitlement that has infected generations of charitable leaders.

Either because they donate their own wealth or control others’ wealth, many charitable leaders seem to believe it endows them with an unerring sense of how to spend it.

So they set the rules, and charities wanting support must obey.

Serving as a kind of private security force for organized philanthropy are consultants and trade groups themselves hooked on funders’ support.

The charitable marketplace needs a housecleaning.

Boards and staffs of foundations and nonprofits need new members who represent the diverse and changing face of America.

Funders and charities need to invest in attracting this new generation of leaders, equipping them to aggressively and effectively take on the big social problems facing our communities, and inspiring them to keep growing and pushing for change.

Before it can fix society’s problems, the charitable sector must fix its own.


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

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