To Give or Not to Give: The Crisis of Confidence in Charities
Public confidence is essential to America's 1.5 million charitable organizations and the 11 million Americans they employ. Confidence clearly affects the public's willingness to donate time and money, shapes the political and regulatory environment that governs charitable organizations, and has at least some influence on morale within the charitable workforce. Confidence slipped when charities were slow to respond after 9/11, and it has been battered in the past year by scandals. The news media have delved into lavish spending at some of the nation's leading philanthropies, improper payments at the United Way of the National Capitol Area, conflicts of interest at the Nature Conservancy, and the firing of new YWCA president and feminist leader Patricia Ireland after just six months on the job. In turn, these stories have sparked legislative investigations and calls for tighter regulation, most recently from the California State Attorney General, who joined his colleagues in Minnesota and New York in calling for a new era in charitable accountability and the legislation to create it. Where the media go, Congress, state attorneys
general, and watchdog groups are sure to follow.