America is awash with organizations that qualify for state and federal tax-exempt status. Collectively these are loosely known as nonprofits, and qualify under myriad regulations and are constructed to address many, if not all, of the ills that beset mankind.
Since the 1990s, when the fraud scandal was unearthed involving United Way's national CEO, there has been a positive push by most of the larger groups to appear more transparent and accountable. It is easy to understand that the public will withhold funding from any organization that appears to be acting in self-serving ways.
Therefore, donors and potential donors are now presented with large, attractive annual reports that emphasize how well their contributions are being used, and assuring us all that there is no skulduggery afoot.
In fairness, it must be said that many of our nonprofits do an excellent job of meeting their goals while generating only nominal administrative overhead. The sky is not yet falling.
However, if we look closer, we see there are a number of typically very small groups that have questionable motives. Many appear to exist for the sole purpose of giving their administrators jobs. Collectively their expenses, which are attributable to administrative overhead, are by any measure excessive.
When the goals of these groups are examined closely, it is rare to find one that exists for anything more than the redistribution of taxpayers' money. There is no goal of weaning the client from the program. There is no attempt made to do anything to resolve the underlying issues that brought the client to them in the first place.
In short, these groups have become enablers that assist in perpetuating cycles. Like giving a bottle of whiskey to a drunk, they have done little more than prolong the inevitable. Much of the funding for these programs comes from government agencies, and as such it is our money. I would like to know that it is being spent to actually resolve a problem rather than just postpone it.
Our charitable organizations need to let us know how many of their clients have been taught how to fish for themselves, and how many have just been fed and sent to the back of the line again. We owe it to ourselves and to those we seek to help, through these agencies, to demand real accountability. Support those who can get the job done.
Phillip A. Williams