Do we need a death penalty for non-profit organizations?

Have you ever watched something on television that made you so angry that you stewed about it for hours on end? For me, this happened last night while channel surfing, and I caught a news story on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSMBC titled “A Special Place In Hell“. This 17 minute story talked about people who use non-profit organizations as a front to scam donors out of their money

If you didn’t catch Rachel’s report and you have a few minutes to burn today, then click here to watch her report or click the graphic below.

rachel maddow

Every non-profit professional should be fuming this morning because all of our brands get damaged when atrocities like this are perpetrated against donors.  This story should also prompt a lot of questions. For example, I find myself scratching my head and asking:

  • Is there a watchdog keeping and eye out for things like this?
  • If you think the IRS, Guidestar and Charity Navigator are those watchdogs, then are your expectations of those organizations unrealistic?
  • Should there be a watchdog?
  • Does the IRS need to get more involved in compliance and monitoring issues? If so, who pays for THAT?
  • Should the non-profit sector get more serious about policing itself? If so, what does that look like?
  • Should Congress enact legislation that focuses on improving transparency and accountability for non-profit corporations (a la Sarbanes Oxley post-Enron)?
  • Should Congress pass a Donor’s Bill of Rights? (After all, there is similar legislation protecting people who fly on airplanes)
  • Should there be a death penalty for non-profit organizations that violate certain laws and perpetrate fraud against donors?

I could go on and on and on with the questions buzzing through my head this morning, but I think I will stop and invite you to share some of the questions you might have. Please use the comment box below to share your question. Or please feel free to use the comment box to share an opinion on one of the questions I’ve posed.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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