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Funding: Charting Impact Of Advocacy Funding On Services

"ScreenHunter_10 Dec. 05 10.38There are two things we can be sure will happen in 2012. First, hundreds of millions, probably billions, of dollars will be raised by newly created, issue-specific nonprofit organizations in the United States. Second, that money will be used for political advertising in the American presidential campaign."  This line is from the annual report just out from philanthropy geek Lucy Bernholz, which gives a good overview of how privately funded advocacy is relatively small but on the rise, its potential effects, good and bad, on funding for the much larger direct services sector and the public systems (like education) that are the focus of intended improvements. "We will see hundreds of millions of dollars with specific political intentions flow through nonprofit organizations in 2012. We can only guess at their cumulative effect."

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From an educational standpoint, it now appears that 501(c)4s will be in competition for philanthropic monies with 501(c)3s, and the more successful the former are in that competition, the more money will flow into $35,000 speaking fees and limousine rides, and the less will flow to actually serving poor children by helping them to become educated. The educated, wonkish class will benefit at the expense of the uneducated poor children they claim to be trying to serve. This mirrors a political decision to spend trillions of dollars on a war occupation just being concluded while having very little of that money actually reach the Iraqis we were supposedly trying to help; the result has been that the Iraqis are now ejecting our military "saviors" from their country, with no thanks for having toppled their oppressor. If this continues, our ghetto communities may also eject the "saviors" who soak up money for themselves, with little improvement or significant difference in outcomes for students.

Well said, Bruce. We used to call them poverty pimps, back in the day. Now, there are whole corporations of them.

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