Why Equality is actively harmful to Equity

by Vu Le

Vu-Le-with-mug_180x186A few weeks ago, I gave a keynote speech to a large group of youth involved in philanthropy, along with a few of their parents and mentors. My topic was “The Role of Equity in Philanthropy.” It was awesome that we had kids ages 8 to 24 engaged in grantmaking and other aspects of philanthropy. They were smart and hungry and full of hope and possibilities, bright minds not yet beaten down to a haggard shell haunted by endless grant rejections and complex community dynamics and the sudden dawning realization of the ephemerality of existence, cowering in the supply closet on a fold-out cot, cradling a stuffed unicorn while Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” plays softly from a phone.

(What, like your Friday nights are soooo much more exciting.)

“As budding philanthropists,” I said to the youth, “you have probably seen the illustration of the difference between Equality and Equity. You know, the drawing of those kids standing on those boxes looking over a fence at people playing baseball.”

As if on cue, two kids came up to the stage with a drawing they had done earlier of the iconic image on easel paper. I stuck it to the lectern. “Get used to this image,” I said, “Have it burned into your mind. Because you will not be able to avoid it. It will haunt your dreams.”

Equality and Equity are frequently brought up in our field, oftentimes with colorful metaphors like “Equality is making sure everyone gets a pair of shoes, but Equity is ensuring that everyone’s shoes actually fits them.” A female colleague of mine once said, “Think about bathrooms. Equality is about men and women both having bathrooms. But Equity is ensuring that…uh…there’s more toilet paper in the women’s bathroom, because we need it more…”

Whatever the metaphor, there seems to be this general belief that Equity is an advanced version of Equality, or that they both are great but in different ways. But in the past few years, I’ve seen more and more evidence that Equality actually prevents Equity from succeeding. Equality is a strong force, and we are drawn to its sexy and hypnotic, but ultimately destructive power. Here are a few areas, some discussed in previous posts, where Equality’s gravity pulls us into its deadly orbit:

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10 Things To Do When You’re Having a Bad Day

by Joan Garry

Joan GarryYesterday morning I received an email from a coaching client.

Subject line: Do You Have Time? Feelin’ Wobbly.

Now I receive hundreds of emails from nonprofit leaders with challenges. Sadly, too many of them are of the five-alarm blaze variety. Toxic board members, a nonprofit ED who had been working for months without pay – you get the idea.

But yesterday, this leader was just wobbly. And he’s not a wobbly type. This particular client is hard wired steady. Or presents that way in nearly every situation.

Yet, a week of changing the world had left him “shaken,” “off his game,” and questioning choices and decisions. Wobbly. Just having a bad day.

Been there?

Yup. Me too. The donor you didn’t treat quite right lays into you. You review the candidate pool for an open senior position and there’s no there there. A volunteer drops an important ball. Plenty of war stories to go around.

Each thing independently is a nuisance or a solid challenge and yet, the collection of them makes you feel like a boxer feeling for the ropes to try gain some balance.

Today, I offer you my 10 Step Program for Wobbly Nonprofit leaders – how to steady yourself and get back in the game.

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Vote November 3

by Linda M. Czipo

While most of the news media coverage has been largely (dare I say overly?) focused on the presidential election that’s over a year away, New Jersey has an important election taking place next week. This post is a plea to put aside the presidential hype for a few days and focus on an election much closer to home.Nonprofit Votes Count

On November 3, New Jerseyans will go to the polls to elect all 80 members of the General Assembly as well as hundreds of local township officials, board of education representatives and more.

Why should you care more about this – at least right now – than the 2016 race for the highest elected office in the country? Simple: because state and local representatives enact far more legislation than our leaders do in Washington, and these actions affect your everyday life.

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“Who Has the Time?” And Other Questions on Nonprofit Advocacy

By David L. Thompson  David L. Thompson

A nationally prominent nonprofit leader recently said this to an audience of people from public charities and private foundations: “Nonprofits have a duty to advocate on behalf of the people who have no voice, to demand social justice.” Many in the audience nodded in agreement; others waited politely for him to get past his warm-up comments to get to something they hadn’t heard before. One audience member was heard muttering under her breath, “yeah, but who has the time?”

To many of us, the “nonprofits ought to advocate” message, as delivered by the above leader and many others, is a mantra without meaning. Everyone says it – preaches it, actually – but not enough embrace advocacy as core to advancing their missions.

This is an article about nonprofit advocacy: not the “ought-to” variety, but instead, offering one powerful example of two bedrock principles that make the case for “everyday advocacy,” which virtually all of us are already doing.

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Non-Profits and Tax Policy: Not a One-Sided Equation

By Linda M. Czipo

Recently, the Star-Ledger ran an opinion column by a prominent Rutgers University faculty member regarding the changing tax policy landscape for tax-exempt organizations and calling for a variety of reforms to address the problems identified by the author.

Presumably, a major impetus (but not the only one) behind this piece is the recent debate surrounding the property tax exemptions of New Jersey’s largest hospitals and universities.

Perhaps I might have been less dismayed by the article had it focused more specifically on the pros and cons of tax exemption for these mega-institutions (or, for that matter, of providing tax incentives to large for-profit corporations for locating within particular municipalities). But as written, the column contains a number of sweeping generalities and misleading and inaccurate statements regarding the entire non-profit community that cannot go unanswered.

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First things first: What should everyone know about New Jersey non-profits?

By Linda M. Czipo

At long last, after a period of good intentions and a couple of false starts, the big moment has arrived: our first Center for Non-Profits blog! Although I’ve been privileged to guest post on the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation blog on topics from non-profit trends to property taxes and federal grant and contract guidelines, launching the Center’s own blog has taken longer. For me, it’s like exercising regularly – the hardest part is getting started (still working on that one).

Considering a topic for our first post, I remembered a question I was asked during a recent Live from Trenton podcast: what are the most important things the public should know about New Jersey non-profits?

Here’s my starting list – and I hope you’ll chime in with your additions:

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