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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