Saturday, November 1, 2008

Political Philanthropy

The political giving being done by employees of the nonprofit sector is largely to liberal politicians—surprising hardly anyone—but it should be troubling to many as it reflects a lack of balance within one of the most important sectors of our society, the nonprofit sector.

It is vital to see the ideas of conservatives more active within the nonprofit sector, particularly when we are reminded that it was through the largess of the relatively conservative corporate leaders of the past—Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller—that the sector has been able to grow and thrive these past hundred years.

An excerpt from a recent article from the Chronicle of Philantrhopy.

“Janet Marcotte, executive director of YWCA Tucson has contributed $4,600, the maximum amount allowed by law, to help Sen. Barack Obama become president. She also attended the Democratic National Convention as a volunteer and traveled to New Mexico to help drum up support for the Illinois senator.

“I haven’t been inspired like this since I was a teenager working for Robert Kennedy,” she says, referring to the 1968 Democratic primary campaign.

“Ms. Marcotte, who emphasizes that she is speaking for herself and not the YWCA, calls Mr. Obama a “rare and exceptional talent” who would do more to help the women and children that her organization serves than his Republican opponent would.

“According to federal campaign records, Ms. Marcotte has a lot of company in the charitable world: People who work at large charities and foundations have favored Senator Obama — and Democrats in general — by a large margin during this election season.

“At The Chronicle’s request, the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, compiled data from the Federal Election Commission on donations to presidential and Congressional candidates and political-party committees from staff members at the 25 wealthiest foundations and 75 of the largest charities. Of almost $1.2-million contributed from January 2007 through August 2008, 88 percent went to Democrats.

“The donors gave more than 12 times as much money to Senator Obama as to his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, of Arizona — about $399,000 to almost $32,000.

“Charity employees favored Democrats by 82 percent to 18 percent, and foundation employees by 98 percent to 2 percent.”