Philanthropy does not stand for anything

Donald Trump might become President of the United States, and the charitable sector doesn’t give a fuck. That’s the gist of a dead on post titled “In the Time of Trump, Philanthropy Must Find Its Voice” by Maxwell King, CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation.

Mr. King warns:

What Donald Trump represents is a threat to the very idea of community. The normal discourse of politics can produce a sharing of ideas and perspectives that leads to common ground and facilitates communal action. Historically in this country, this common ground has been the basis for solving our most persistent problems.

The nonprofit sector exists to stand with those marginalized by society. We are supposed to stand with the poor and to fight for those new to our country. Where the free-market creates inequality we task ourselves with empowering everyone with equal opportunity.

In short, we stand for something. There are nonprofit anti-poverty groups but no pro-poverty groups. There are nonprofit anti-defamation leagues but no pro-defamation leagues. Nonprofits are different from businesses in that by our very nature we take a stand.

Yet philanthropy as a whole, the nonprofit sector as an industry, has not taken a stand on the unprecedented hate that Trump represents. Instead, our representatives in Washington D.C. like Independent Sector are too concerned with preserving the charitable deduction to lead the sector in addressing an issue of actual national importance.

The Charity Defense Council claims to “fight for the people who fight for the people”. Yet despite the philanthropic sector’s considerable clout and resources, the only recommendation we have for the country at this historic juncture is to make sure rich people can get maximum deductions for naming gifts to their alma maters. Who are we fighting for again?

The Republican party is a mess. Whether you’re a Democrat or a non-Trump supporting Republican, it is in your personal best interest to help the Republican party right itself. Indeed, it is in the country’s best interest that Donald Trump not just fail to win the presidency, but that he not secure the nomination of one of our country’s two major political parties.

I’m well aware of both the legal limitations and the sector’s cultural inclinations to stay apolitical. But Trump’s candidacy is unique in that he threatens the entirety of our sector’s body of work, and more importantly the lives and well-being of those we purport to serve.

If philanthropy stood for anything, we would stand united against Trump. The country looks to philanthropy as its moral compass, let’s pick a direction and point.