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It’s not nonprofits’ fault that there are too many of them

In Sacha Pfeiffer’s article “Philanthropy world worries about overlap” (Page A1, July 5), David Callahan, editor of the website Inside Philanthropy, and Marla Felcher, founder of Philanthropy Connection, perpetuate a myth that it is the nonprofits themselves that are to blame for a glut of such organizations.

It is common for nonprofit leaders to hear from funders, “You should operate more like a business.” So it is peculiar that values lauded in the private sector, such as innovation, competition, and, yes, failure, are frowned upon when applied to the nonprofit sector. The frequent implication that nonprofits should dissolve when faced with a little competition, or worse, the suggestion that a supposedly omniscient nonprofit czar should be given the authority to decide the fate of individual organizations, attacks the problem from the wrong side of the equation.

Nonprofits, just like private-sector businesses, succeed based on their ability to compete for and secure resources. It is the funders and philanthropists who bear the responsibility of establishing financial incentives that allow great ideas to thrive and bad ones to fail.


Rick Jakious, Swampscott

The writer is the former chief executive of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.