An SBA for charities?

There are a number of fine ideas in the Aspen Institute’s list of things to do to strengthen the nonprofit sector. The Nonprofiteer’s favorite–and not just because she made the selfsame suggestion to the Clinton transition team in 1992–is to start a Small Business Administration equivalent for nonprofits.

The SBA provides at least two important resources to small businesses: advice, and capital. Both are in equally short supply among nonprofits. The Nonprofiteer, at least, would happily conclude her career helping small nonprofits reinvent the wheel (“Your Board has to raise money!” “Don’t forget to pay your withholding taxes!”) as soon as she was sure someone from a new NPBA (“NonProfit Biz.Admin.”) would be there to step into the breach.

And what might that someone say? Oh, right: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you . . .”!


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4 Responses to “An SBA for charities?”

  1. Bill Huddleston Says:

    Before you added the typical insults about government employees you might want to consider that on a personal level, through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), Federal public servants have donated more than $1 billion to thousands of local, national, and international nonprofits over the past five years.

    CFC funds are unrestricted, reliable and predictable. In terms of actual giving, not just the asset size measure that the foundation sector likes to use as a indicator of success, if the CFC were a foundation, it would the be the 10th largest foundation in the US, and the largest corporate foundation (it is after all, employees giving).

    Bill Huddleston, CFC Expert

    In terms of government accomplishments since World War II, I would suggest you check out Paul Light’s 2002 book, “Government’s Greatest Achievements: From Civil Rights to Homeland Security ”

    Since the book was published in 2002, obviously the deficit issue has changed, but the other 9 items remain valid.

    From the book, here are the top ten of twenty-five federal government achievements:

    1. Rebuilding Europe After World War II. This endeavor was anchored in the Marshall Plan, and is the only non-current endeavor on the list.

    2. Expanding the Right to Vote. Ten statutes comprise this effort to protect and expand the right to vote. Although the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the flagship, the endeavor also includes three extensions and two constitutional amendments.

    3. Promoting Equal Access to Public Accommodations. This three-statute endeavor originates in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, expands with the Open Housing Act of 1968, and is capped with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

    4. Reducing Disease. The Polio Vaccination Act of 1955 is the starting point for the most eclectic group of statutes on the list. Alongside vaccination assistance, the effort to reduce disease includes targeted research, bans on smoking, and strengthening the National Institutes of Health.

    5. Reducing Workplace Discrimination. Seven statutes make up this effort to prohibit workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, or disability includes seven pieces of legislation, most notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

    6. Ensuring Safe Food and Drinking Water. Nine statutes comprise this long-running bipartisan effort.

    7. Strengthening the Nation’s Highway System. Eight statutes underpin the ongoing federal effort to augment the national highway system, most notably the original 1956 Interstate Highway Act.

    8. Increasing Older Americans’ Access to Health Care. Medicare is the flagship of this highly concentrated three-statute endeavor. This is the only endeavor on the list that involved a single breakthrough statute.

    9. Reducing the Federal Budget Deficit. Six statutes fall within the effort to balance the federal budget through caps, cuts, and tax increases. Launched in the mid-1980s as budget deficits swelled, this is the most recent endeavor on the top ten list.

    10. Promoting Financial Security in Retirement. Twenty-one statutes comprise the effort to reduce poverty among the elderly.

    Government’s Greatest Achievements: From Civil Rights to Homeland Security
    Paul C. Light
    Publication: September 1, 2002

  2. Nonprofiteer Says:

    Bill, I intended no insult to government or government employees; rather, I share your respect for the amazing things they accomplish with insufficient resources. I just couldn’t resist the old joke.

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