It seems everybody wants a piece of the pie, even those who would use extortion on charities, as The Wall Street Journal reports:
Readers who run a foundation, serve on a board or are thinking of starting such a charitable effort should know about the gauntlet of shakedown artists forming up to demand a piece of the action.
As with so many marginal ideas, this one is coming out of California. A proposed bill there would have required foundations with more than $250 million in assets to report the racial, gender and sexual orientation of their board members, staffs and grantees. The bill's sponsors recently agreed to drop the issue in return for a political payoff of millions of dollars from 10 of the state's biggest charities.
My husband sent this article to me with the memo line, time to skeedaddle. The questions that one begs to ask is, does it matter. Apparently for some, it does.
Initiated by a group in Berkeley called Greenlining, it claims that - watch out, damn statistics ahead! - the majority of Californians are in "majorities of color" (so, does that mean they are no longer "minorities?"), but charitable organizations are spending only 5% of their bucks on them.
If these numbers sound fishy, it's because they are. Greenlining only counts money as going to minorities if it's given to organizations whose board and staff are more than 50% minority. Thus an inner-city Catholic school with a 95% black population wouldn't qualify if its teachers were mostly white. As well, these are private foundations whose donors gave money for specific causes, such as cancer treatments or the environment. Presumably they'd like the money to go to people who can accomplish these goals most effectively, rather than to some pol's allies.
Yeah, those hard-hearted people writing checks to charities, with little regard to who is administering the money and why. Well, no, actually they are concerned about why, as that is their impetus for pulling out the wallet in the first place.
But you know, it's not enough for your tax dollars to be spent in a way of which you may not agree - it's time now for your charity dollars to be reallocated also.
Locked in a tight primary race for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Mr. Ridley-Thomas apparently was playing this issue for all it was worth, promising his South Central L.A. constituents that he would, as California political blogger Stephen Frank put it, "make sure the rich white foundations would give their money to local nonprofits."
Whose money is it? This is not a good idea. From Paul Brest, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, California's largest foundation:
"[Our] fundamental operating principle is to direct our resources to organizations that have the promise of making the greatest difference in achieving [philanthropic] goals. Thus, we do not focus on the racial composition of our grantees, but rather on how to achieve measurable impact in improving the lives of the communities that our grant recipients serve."
Don't we get that choice? That Sunday collection basket may be the last stance of freedom and autonomy in this state.