Presentations (Communicative Events)

The Case For A Renewal Of Civic Capitalism In The Independent Sector

Harshbarger, Scott

Today, the independent, non-profit sector, founded, created and praised, as the complement or supplement to the dominant major public and private sectors of our democracy and economy, has become a major player, if not the major one, in many aspects of our social, corporate and public life. The reality in fact is that we need and depend on this sector far more than ever before. the Third Sector is now central to, and virtually the dominant player in, the charitable and the social justice safety net, not merely the supplement to it, because of the decline in the role of government, the increase in the role of the private sector, and the dramatic expansion of the reach/role and functions of the non-profit world in the USA. NFP entities now increasingly play and fulfill the functions of both the private and public sectors in, for example, health care, education and human services, international economic, public health, and civic stabilization, credit financing and legal services, in addition to the arts, sciences, research, and entrepreneurial and innovative risk taking pilot and other projects. The NFP sector touches all of our lives, and is vital to our quality of life. This happened, in large measure, because of tax laws that permit a huge shielding of wealth, creation of private foundations, and the influential impact of corporate social responsibility. With great opportunity and great power also comes great responsibility – in the words of Spiderman, to whom much is given, much is expected. The intersection of power and money without independent checks and balances yields corruption. It is precisely because the sector plays such a major role in American society and is the recipient of hundreds of billions of dollars in public, charitable and tax exempt funds that overarching and effective oversight of nonprofits is sorely needed.
Therefore, I challenge all of us in this sector (institutions, boards, executives, and regulators) to justify, as a matter of public policy, why this sector should be immune from public accountability and responsibility.


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More About This Work


Other papers from the same panel are available in Academic Commons.

"Evolving State Regulation: From Index Cards To The Internet" by Karin Kuntsler-Goldman and Belinda Johns -
"The Future of State Regulation of Charities" by Marion R. Fremont-Smith -

Access all papers from the 2013 Charities Regulation and Oversight Project Policy Conference in Academic Commons