Archive for May 4th, 2009

Rick Cohen takes on the charity biz – again

4 May 2009

Without exception, the best writing on the intertubes these days about the “independent sector” – or whatever you want to call the gaggle of trade associations that claim to speak for the millions of non profits active in the US  – is coming from Rick Cohen at his blog, The Cohen Report. Cohen is the ex-ED of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, so he knows what he’s talking about.

Well, Cohen just posted an absolutely devastating piece detailing how  the big  charity associations – Independent Sector, Council on Foundations, the Association of Small Foundations, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, and the rest – have lined up against the Obama administration’s proposal to help fund health care reform by reducing the tax benefits that the top 1 percent of Americans currently receive when they itemize their deductions – including their charitable deductions. Cohen shows how these trade groups have completely failed to look beyond their narrow self-interest to the larger public interest – not to mention to the huge gain that thousands of small NGOs and millions of non profit workers. Here’s his conclusion:

Is the potential loss of a small portion of charitable donations, even if a “small portion” is measured in billions, perhaps $4 billion, maybe even $6  billion, depending on economists’ estimates and models, a price worth paying in order to help finance comprehensive health care reform?  For nonprofits as a whole, the short term savings are clear, the long term benefits undeniable, [and] the nonprofit sector itself is “net winner” from universal health coverage…

You want to know what’s really going on in the non profit biz? Read Cohen.

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@Quixotetilts worth following at Council on Foundation meeting

4 May 2009

If you’re on Twitter, would definitely recommend following @quixotetilts, the Twitter account for the folks at the Quixote Foundation (disclosure: MoJo is a grantee, and Erik is on our parent NGO board of directors). Whoever’s there from Quixote is doing some rock solid live-tweeting at the Council on Foundations meeting underway right now.

This is not nostalgia

4 May 2009

Six year ago, I was reeling. Among other things, I was being pushed out of Earthjustice by unhappy board members, who thought they knew better (they didn’t, as it turned out – a topic for another time: there’s a story to be told about the ignorance and arrogance of the wealthy in the history of the American environmental movement).

I needed to not attend an upcoming Earthjustice board meeting, so I headed east that October for fundraising meetings and the bar mitzvah of my cousin’s son in West Hartford, the town where I was born. I decided to stop by the house I’d lived in til I was 8. I hadn’t been back there since my mother moved my brother Al and me to Great Neck, a suburb of New York City, so that she could get away and be closer to my grandfather.

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