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Advocacy by Charitable Nonprofits: Flipping The Accountability Lens To Focus On Government Actions

Delaney, Tim

This paper is admittedly different for a “Charities Regulation Policy Conference.” Instead of focusing narrowly on the actions of nonprofits and foundations, this paper flips the accountability lens to look back more broadly at government actions. It invites conference attendees to take a giant step back to assess how government policymakers (specifically excluding regulators) are handling their responsibilities with respect to community assets known as charitable nonprofits. The traditional one-way lens misses the bigger picture: the public depends on the charitable sector to be healthy enough to provide a reliable social safety net and deliver a wide range of other services. Yet since the Great Recession began governments have been rapidly shifting massive amounts of their financial burdens onto charitable nonprofits, thereby straining and stretching that safety net to the point of imperiling the health of nonprofits and hurting the public. This purposefully provocative paper documents five hidden-in-plain-sight trends to highlight how individuals and local communities are endangered by an increasing number of governments: 1. Abusing nonprofits in the contracting context, hurting program recipients
and taxpayers in the process; 2. Directly taking money away from nonprofit mission; 3. Indirectly taking nonprofit resources by invading nonprofit boardrooms; 4. Abandoning commitments to the public as they eliminate programs and slash funds, expecting charitable nonprofits and foundations to fill the voids governments create; and 5. Draining the philanthropic pool of dollars. Charity regulators have not caused the five dangerous trends, but they can be an instrumental source of solutions. From front-line staff to front-office AGs (standing for “Accomplished Galvanizers” and “Always Glamorous,” as explained below), charity regulators can do their duties of protecting the public in a more holistic way that protects and advances the public interest. This paper concludes with a section identifying how this can be done.

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Notes

Another paper from the same panel is available in Academic Commons.

"Politics and The Public Benefit Corporation" by Anthony Johnstone - http://dx.doi.org/10.7916/D8XD0ZNN

Access all papers from the 2013 Charities Regulation and Oversight Project Policy Conference in Academic Commons
http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog?f%5Bseries_facet%5D%5B%5D=2013+Charities+Regulation+and+Oversight+Project+Policy+Conference

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