Donors were criticized for giving to Notre Dame. Nonprofits were besieged for accepting opioid-tainted money. Pundits have argued that philanthropy is an elite charade; this is failing democracy. In the contemporary zeitgeist of tumult and self-reflection, I’ve started to invite myself—as someone who runs a nonprofit—when must a nonprofit refuse a present? It’s a strange query in view that nonprofits usually take any money they can discover. But the following thought exercising has helped clarify my questioning:
Imagine a “demon donor” whose money comes from morally suspicious activities instead of the task of a given nonprofit. Despite dreams that can be counter to those of the nonprofit, a demon who thinks it’d be better if the organization limped alongside. A monster who offers a gift (without which the business enterprise may work bankrupt) provided he is commemorated on the gala—a demon whose genuine nature is known only to the nonprofit.
Should the nonprofit take the demon’s cash?
Many nonprofit leaders might say sure. They would argue that even as tainted, the cash has already been made and can now at least be placed to exact use. They could say that gala honors are meaningless. They might view the demon’s motivations as irrelevant.
But the nonprofit has to reject the demon’s gift, and here’s why:
Not because the cash is tainted. Even the maximum unwell-gotten gains may become practical gifts within the proper context. They can be seized with the aid of the Attorney General in a crook settlement and recycled as presents to mitigate the damage executed. They may be given using demons-became-angels after midlife epiphanies. They may be made with the aid of inheritors atoning for the sins of their forefathers. They can be presented through foundation trustees separated in time and (moral) space from the original sin.
Not due to the fact the demon demands to be generated. Honor—like love or laughter—cannot be sold, not to mention mandated at the side of a present. In our ironic, publish-modern-day tradition, they were being venerated at a gala, memorialized on a plaque, or receiving a few other donor baubles, method little absent the heartfelt gratitude and actual recognition of the honoring nonprofit. Even an honor as reputedly permanent as the name on construction can be later unmasked with a bit of creativeness. (Imagine if the Metropolitan Museum of Art located an opioid exhibit within the Sackler Wing.)