[Note: A version of this post was published in the opinion pages of The Chronicle of Philanthropy on November 2, 2017.]
Here’s an idea: Let’s agree to stop referring to “the nonprofit sector.”
That’s because, in reality, there are two nonprofit sectors.
The first is comprised of the hundreds of thousands of charitable organizations that provide actual services. The second is made up of funders: foundations, donor-advised fund sponsors, and corporate and individual donors.
The priorities of these two nonprofit sectors are different. The first nonprofit sector – I’ll call them “the charities” for short – is focused on meeting mission: feeding, housing, educating, and counseling people; saving the earth and animals; curing diseases and healing the sick; producing community theater and running art classes; rescuing, feeding, and supporting families displaced from natural disaster; and generally doing what they can to keep this frayed and fragmented society of ours from falling to pieces.
The second nonprofit sector – “the funders” – genuinely cares about all of that. But the funders are also concerned with their own institutions’ and donors’ well-being, tax advantages, budgets, and privileges. And the interests of the funders are often in conflict with those of the charities. Continue reading