Foundations and nonprofits need democracy. “Democracy” doesn’t need them

 Here’s the 5th article in the series I’ve written for the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

What Now: The Philanthropic Future our Democracy Needs

https://www.philanthropy.com/article/What-Now-The-Philanthropic/249363

Foundations and nonprofits exist within a set of norms and laws unique to democracy. If democracy falls, if a vengeful, authoritarian government grows, those norms and rules will be under ever more threat. We see this around the world. We can see it coming in the US in laws and actions against protest and assembly, in the gutting of oversight bodies like the FEC and the IRS, and in the words and actions of the current administration.

Any nonprofit or foundation that looks at the upcoming election and doesn’t see the current administration’s very public attacks on journalism and protest as clear warning shots against civil society – against the nonprofit and philanthropic sector as the U.S. has known it – is blinding itself to the threats. 

Foundations and nonprofits need democracy in order for them to exist (at least as we’ve known them in the U.S). Protecting the rule of law and the right of existence of a nonprofit/foundation sector should be top of mind for these organizations. The legal and normative space for them will cease to exist if the current administration is given the opportunity to do so. 

Think I’m raising false flags?  Ask yourself this: Would Attorney General Barr and the Trump administration find a way to get rid of the ACLU if given the chance?

 

 

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