Flight of Fancy, or a Fancy Flight?

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Many times, the Cohen Report imagines alternative universes, a nonprofit sector that is really firing on all cylinders, building an infrastructure of social progress, and raising a powerful advocacy voice addressing the critical issues of our day. We hold lofty aspirations for the sector — and for ourselves. Oh, that we could always live up to them!

But this imaginary flight has some real consequences for how we perceive the reality, and perhaps some real life consequences as well. In this issue of the CR we look at the intersection of philanthropy with the entirely virtual Second Life and ask about the real life dimensions and consequences for this new online world. And, in a follow-up to our previous article on black farmers, we found some staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture imagining that they had more powers to do their own lobbying than the law permitted — and, thanks to Senator Barack Obama — they were reminded of their limitations.

One wishes we could get the Smithsonian Institution to imagine an operating style with a bit more connection to basic concepts of accountability and probity, but this issue of CR describes yet another Smithsonian slip-up. And perhaps the fundraising marketers for a couple of less than admirable veterans charities might imagine what the First Amendment protection for free speech really is meant to cover — it’s not meant to cover scamming veterans and the charities that should be helping the people whose military service needs to be remembered, respected, and honored.

Do let the Cohen Report know if there’s anything you want us to investigate. Sometimes that takes us to where powerful people with thin skins feel gored simply by coverage that isn’t all baskets of red roses. Despite that, the Cohen Report remains committed to looking in places where some sunshine and concomitant debate will lead to a better nonprofit sector.