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Unified raspberry: Nonprofits should stand tall. (General Ramblings).

The cowering stops now.

The next nonprofit executive to offer an apology or explanation about why an organization didn't dispense a bucket full of money faster should be canned by the nonprofit's board. It should happen even before the executive gets off the television set where the interview is taking place.

Perhaps the board chair can find a way to call the engineering booth and feed into the executive's earpiece that the ax has fallen and the person should just shut up.

A pack of pundits, who know little or nothing about how the sector operates, smells blood and won't let the facts, even when they are provided to them, get in the way of ranting and ratings. Nonprofits should not provide human kindling for the fire by making themselves available for the inevitable tirade.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid out by nonprofits since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Charities were on the front lines rescuing, feeding and supporting within minutes -- literally -- of the attacks.

Meanwhile, within days of the attacks, President George W. Bush pledged $20 billion to New York City. So, where's the dough? Who is holding the government's feet to the fire?

The airline industry got its bailout. Perhaps as part of the free legal assistance nonprofits are funding can be the paperwork to change one's name to include "Inc.," so the government will think that the victims are an industry and will fork over the cash that was promised for the recovery.

In New York City, it took two months for the Twin Towers Fund controlled by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to cut checks. Few asked what he was waiting for in disbusing funds. Look, Rudy has had a few other things on his mind. But, the first 73 checks didn't go out until the second week of November. You don't see television hosts banging their fists on the anchor desk calling for his head. And, now that checks have been cut, it looks like it was done in haste and possibly in violation of Internal Revenue Service guidelines for disbursal of cash on an emergency basis.

But, because it's Rudy, the IRS has backed down and announced it will relax the rules for September 11 charities. Why are the American Red Cross, United Way of New York City and others being held to different standards?

There seems to be a double standard and there are numerous questions that need to be asked and answered by folks with a little intestinal fortitude.

For example, of $10 given to help the victims, do donors need to be so specific that they have to decide if that $10 should go in the injured rescue worker's pocket or to pay for the bandage provided by a charity that's stopping the person's bleeding?

Should that $10 go in the pocket of a displaced person, or should it pay for the food provided by a charity that feeds that family?

Does the money that provides services, like the Salvation Army's canteen trucks where emergency personnel sought a moment of physical, and possibly emotional refreshment, come from thin air?

And, is charity expected to make people financially whole for a lifetime or to get people back on their feet and moving forward?

Donors have long trusted that charities will do the right thing with the money that is donated. Yes, there has been screaming about the Red Cross's Liberty Fund. But, which part of the "for this and other disasters" phrase used in the Red Cross's television spots don't the talking heads on television and members of Congress understand?

And, while the $1.3 billion number is being tossed about as money sent to the various funds, that is money that is pledged. The amount actually received is millions less.

Americans have trusted always charities to do the right thing. And, with a few stunning lapses, mission is always accomplished.

Charities need to provide a united front, answer the oversight questions that are asked by regulators, and then go about doing their important work.

Think of it this way, if people had turned to the federal government for help on September 11, they'd still be waiting.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:no apologies for rate of money dispersal
Author:Clolery, Paul
Publication:The Non-profit Times
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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