Three months ago, I wrote “Have nonprofit and philanthropy become and white moderate that Dr. King warned us about?” Since then, I have been grappling with the question of how effective our work is as a sector. Are we actually doing good in the world, or have we tricked ourselves into believing that we are while in reality we’re allowing inequity and injustice to proliferate? The reality is that we’re doing both, and it’s important for us to untangle these dynamics.

It is undeniable now that we have reached this point where wealth is hoarded by a few people, and it’s undermining our democracy, and it’s getting worse by the day. And we need to acknowledge that we nonprofits been playing a role in it:

We positively reinforce wealth hoarding: 

There is a direct correlation in our sector where the more money people give, the more they are treated as heroes and saviors. We do the same with foundation and DAF donors, spinning tales of the amazing things we’re doing with the 5% of endowments given out each year. All of this continues to reward people for hoarding wealth.

We help donors charity-wash their guilt and the harm they cause:

At the extreme end, there’s the Sacklers giving money to nonprofits while perpetuating the opioid epidemic. But more pervasive is wealthy donors at all levels avoiding paying taxes and instead picking and choosing from a buffet of causes that appeal to them personally.

We allow inequitable systems to go unchallenged: 

By reinforcing donors’ and foundations’ harmful behaviors and then allowing them to charity-wash the harm they might cause, we give the illusion that progress is being made, which increases complacency and reduces the urgency to actually solve systemic problems.

Read the full article about wealth hoarding in nonprofits by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.