The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy just finished a two-day lobbying spree on Capitol Hill, waging another small battle in the growing war over the dwindling charity dollars available to America’s nonprofits.
At stake is the freedom of donors to choose who is on the receiving end of their generosity. A highly-publicized paper released this month by the NCRP detailed criteria for the “best” form of philanthropy, which amounts to the NCRP determining which groups of people are best suited to receive money or services from an organization.
“There's a trend toward regulation that's overreaching,” said Sue Santa, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at the Philanthropy Roundtable, which among other objectives, safeguards “the freedom of the sector to carry out diverse charitable goals and missions.”
Specific recommendations from the NCRP call for 50% of grants to be directed at marginalized communities, 25% directed towards advocacy and 5% of governing boards to be composed of people from “diverse” backgrounds. The NCRP claims that since charities are awarded tax subsidies, the “tax subsidies provided to donors and to foundations make the government and the public partners with philanthropists in pursuit of the public good.”
Critics have pointed out that many arts, educational, or cultural charities may by definition be in violation of NCRP’s guidelines. Their fears may become more urgent if Democratic legislators act on their stated skepticism towards the worthiness of specific causes – such as art museums – as the Philanthropy Roundtable claims. Some lawmakers “remain convinced that private foundations must be more heavily regulated to avert waste, fraud and abuse,” according to the Philanthropy Roundtable.