Tainted Donors and Renewal

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Ruth McCambridge

We just got a box containing copies of the new edition of the Nonprofit Quarterly. This is always both a thrill and cause for self-criticism—”Do you think that green is too green?” or “Is that resolution right?” or “Omigod! How did that typo get through?” We never, ever feel completely satisfied.

But I have to admit that this edition of NPQ makes me proud for any number of reasons. Mostly it’s the timeliness and usefulness of the content.

For instance, yesterday one of our team wrote a Newswire for this morning that points to another donor-gone-bad situation—in this case, the donor-gone-bad is BP Oil, a high profile case to put it mildly—and the grant recipient is (painfully) the newly opening sea otter exhibit at an aquarium. The question: what to do about that opening ceremony lauding the donor?


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And in yesterday’s Newswire I covered a situation in which one of the biggest (multi-million dollar) contributors to a conservation group in Pennsylvania clear cut 44 acres of forest, without doing any impact studies, no less. And although many of us are at the point where we feel like we may yell from the roof tops—”I don’t care how filthy your money is—just send it our way!”—many groups are still trying to  resist taking support from those acting in contradiction to their missions. For instance, the group that worked against human trafficking who refused Craigslist money.

Over the past few months I have been tracking these tainted donor stories and we thought our readers could use some guidance on the topic so we asked Paul Dunn, an expert on the topic, to write an article on what to do “When a Donor Becomes Tainted.” He has treated the topic with a combination of enormous practicality and subtlety.

The way we support our free online work as well as the journal is largely through subscriptions and yours makes a difference!

Don’t miss Paul Dunn’s piece. Subscribe today and we will send your copy post haste!