Changing the Way that Charity Changes the World.

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Are nonprofits bloodsuckers who are raping the economy?

That's the assertion that Rush Limbaugh is making here:

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_051409/content/01125109.guest.html

One of my firm values is the concept that nonprofits are BUSINESSES. The term "non-profit" simply refers to an organization's tax exempt status and inability to provide financial benefits to shareholders.

One of Mr. Limbaugh's accusations is that nonprofits don't contribute anything to the economy, but only "siphon off" contributions by begging.

A few problems with this argument:

  • Many nonprofits operate earned income ventures such as thrift stores, manufacturing facilities, schools and other enterprises; these are no different than their for-profit peers except that the capital that they generate is used to sustain charitable activities, not provide dividends to shareholders.
  • Nonprofits pay payroll taxes; their staff pay income tax and social security; etc. These are all dollars that are flowing back into the economy.
  • Most importantly, what would the country look like without the work of nonprofits? Could the for-profit sector be as profitable without the vital contributions that nonprofits make to the lives of their employees and customers?

I realize that Mr. Limbaugh is in the business of generating controversy. I had honestly forgotten he was alive until I heard about his rantings about nonprofits: that means that he succeeded in getting the attention of the 10% of Americans who work for nonprofits (reference here). His advertisers are likely very happy about that.

In that scenario, who's the real blood-sucker? What is contributed to the world by Rush's rantings and ravings? 

The nonprofit world needs to be scrutinized just as carefully as the government: after all, we accept public contributions and therefore need to operate transparently and with accountability to all members of the community.

But insinuating that we are "lazy idiots" is absurd. And implying that the work of fundraising is somehow "raping the economy" is ludicrous — how is this any different than providing salaries to a salesforce in the for-profit world? 

I defer to Robert Egger, the leader of the DC Central Kitchen, who makes a nice retort in this video response:

That's the "Rated G" version. You can watch the full version (with hilarious ending) here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFzye1bqwag&feature=player_embedded

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