New Congress an opportunity

By Todd Cohen

New leadership and new blood in Congress are giving nonprofits a new chance.

Nonprofits should work for more effective regulation, and buck the gang that rules the charitable marketplace.

Big foundations and the trade groups and consultants hooked on their support have sabotaged efforts to crack down on charitable excess and misdeeds.

A group spearheaded by Independent Sector and funded by big foundations has persuaded Congress to avoid regulatory change in return for the promise that nonprofits will police themselves.

Distracted by the Iraq war and other issues, Congress has failed to look hard at charity.

But as Rick Cohen of The Nonprofit Quarterly reports in the Philanthropy Journal, new committee chairs and new members of Congress with nonprofit experience might favor greater nonprofit accountability.

Foundations operate with little regulation and spend far too little, and a few nonprofits’ bad behavior hurts all nonprofits.

Yet big foundations and nonprofit trade groups do not speak for the entire sector, which is large, diverse and fragmented.

If nonprofits do not push for rules that make the marketplace more open and fair, Congress will keep pandering to the big foundations and nonprofit trade groups that already exercise unfair market power.

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

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