Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Now that the issue is on my radar, I keep running into it. A recent Philanthropy Journal article warns about the danger of clawbacks of charitable donations and includes practical advice for charities on how to recognize potentially shady donations and how to perform due diligence.
Charitable donation clawbacks are an issue at the intersection of nonprofit law, criminal law, and bankruptcy that I was completely unaware of. Apologies to those who have written on the topic.
Apparently, it happens quite commonly that charitable organizations receive donations that, unbeknownst to them, are the product of fraudulent or otherwise ill-gotten gains. When the miscreant donors are caught and placed in bankruptcy or another form of receivership, the trustees try to recover the funds from the charity in order to satisfy others creditors' claims. in some instances, charities must disgorge funds that were donated many years earlier.
The Minneapolis StarTribune reportsthat Minnesota recently passed a law that would limit such clawbacks to donations made within the previous two years.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Those of you who follow the Social Enterprise movement will be happy to know that there was an interesting-looking SE conference last week sponsored by students at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Two quick observations.
First, the existence of an SE conference does not fit with my somewaht distant memory of Harvard B-School students. I remember them in the 1980s preening at the Boat House bar in Cambridge boasting about how wealthy they were going to be. Things have changed, I guess.
Second, the conference website reports that it included "1,500 Engaged Attendees, 75 Innovative Speakers and Presenters, 40 Vibrant panels and Workshops, and 4 Thought-Provoking Keynotes." Having perused the conference brochure, I can confirm that it seems to have been a dynamic gathering; however, such over-reliance on adjectives (and exclamation points!!) leaves the young social entrepreneurs open to additional razzing about the language they use and the charge that the whole movement is marketing rather than evolutionary change.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Today's New York Times reports that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has put forward its own presidential candidate in spite of assuring everyone after the fall of Mubarak that it would not. Most interesting, perhaps, is the fact that the Brotherhood is acting with the tacit support of the U.S. Government.
Throughout the Mubarak years, the U.S. portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as a powerful, fanatic group that, if permitted to participate in the political realm, would push Egypt toward fundamentalist theocracy. Scholars sometimes criticised the U.S.'s monolithic view of political Islam, arguing that there was (and is) a healthy divergence of opinions and robust public debate among Islamic actors in many countries concerning the role that Islam should play in government. Scholars (including me) argued that many forms of Islam are compatible with a functioning civil society and democratic governance.
It now appears that U.S. policy makers are beginning to appreciate the nuances of political Islam and that the Brotherhood does not appear to be enemy of civil society and democracy that it was assumed to be.