Donors have been criticized for giving to Notre Dame. Nonprofits had been besieged for accepting opioid-tainted money. Pundits have argued that philanthropy is an elite charade that is failing democracy.
In the current zeitgeist of tumult and self-reflection, I’ve commenced to ask myself—as a person who runs a nonprofit—whether a nonprofit should refuse a gift. It’s an abnormal query when you consider that nonprofits commonly take any money they can discover. But the following concept of exercising has helped make clear my wondering:
Imagine a “demon donor” whose money comes from morally suspicious activities diametrically against the assignment of a given nonprofit. Despite goals that might be counter to those of the nonprofit, a demon still thinks it might be higher if the enterprise limped along. A monster who offers a present (without which the corporation may work bankrupt) supplied he’s commemorated at the gala—a nightmare whose true nature is known best to the nonprofit.
Should the nonprofit take the demon’s money?
Many nonprofit leaders could say sure. They might argue that the money, even as tainted, has already been made and might now, as a minimum, be positioned to precise use. They would say that gala honors are meaningless. They could view the demon’s motivations as beside the point.
But the nonprofit has to reject the demon’s gift, and right here’s why:
Not due to the fact the cash is tainted. Even the most ill-gotten gains can become suited presents within the proper context. They can be seized with the aid of the Attorney General in a criminal agreement and recycled as gifts to mitigate the damage completed. They can be given through demons-grew to become angels after midlife epiphanies. They may be made by using inheritors atoning for the sins of their forefathers. They may be presented using foundation trustees separated in time and (moral) area from the original sin.
Not because the demon needs to be commemorated. Honor—like love or laughter—can not be offered, let alone mandated at the side of a present. In our ironic, put-up-modern tradition, being venerated at a gala, memorialized on a plaque, or receiving some different donor bauble is little absent the heartfelt gratitude and actual recognition of the honoring nonprofit. Even an honor is everlasting because the call on a building may be later unmasked with a touch of imagination. (Imagine if the Metropolitan Museum of Art placed an opioid showcase within the Sackler Wing.)
Not because the demon is, taken as a whole, a bad guy. The global is complex, and nonprofits can’t anticipate peering eye-to-eye with donors on the whole lot. They shouldn’t like or admire them. Even odd bedfellows can work together productively in regions wherein their normally divergent hobbies overlap.