Monday, November 7, 2016

The Clinton Foundation problem

The Clinton Foundation has just made it more difficult for all of us in the non profit sector. For me- the issue is not about politics. It's not about who you plan to vote for, and if you love or detest the Democratic nominee. I also want to save the debate on whether or not it's ethical for any institution to take money from foreign governments that throw gays off buildings and don't allow women to drive for another day, and what kind of expectation is tied to a multi million dollar donation to a charity spearheaded by an influential politician. Those of us in the non profit sector spend many years developing our main asset: reputation and the major currency- public trust. It takes time to convince donors that we use their money wisely, that we're transparent, that we have a goal we're passionate about that they should get behind and believe in and that we are not wasteful. The controversies that surround the Clinton Foundation reinforce some of the worst stereotypes about how big charities run and what they do. From excessive salaries, meetings with US administration and preferential treatment,jets flights and private travel, every week Wikileaks serves us a new batch of foundation related scandal. It's bad enough if those are simply accusations, it's so much worse if any of it it's true. My biggest problem is - that we are all viewed as one industry, although we do different things and often don't even have much to do with one another. The Clinton Foundation soap opera might not be causing much outrage because it reinforces what people often think of non profits already- that although the might not know how and why exactly - something fishy is going on and it's most likely a scam. A bias like that is very difficult to counter. How can I prove to you that I have good intentions?

When I launched my nonprofit, Florida Disability Access and Awareness Foundation I started writing about its mission with excitement on social media. I remember being attacked by strangers on Facebook, saying that it has to be some elaborate scheme to line someone's pocket. My foundation was also accused of using "a picture of a child" to promote it's "shady mission". The picture was me in a wheelchair. I just happen to have a youthful appearance. The person was some sort of a nonprofit vigilante who took upon himself to track and target organizations he didn't think were worthy. These are the types of reactions we have to deal with. and many of those grass roots nonprofits like mine don't have access to Wall Street, investors and bankers. I must say, when I read of a million dollar gift to Bill Clinton or $250,000 speeches I think of the projects I have going on that I can't even get the $600,000 budget for. a project we are now developing All I can do is tell you my story. How I started a nonprofit because I was tired of how society viewed the disability community and I wanted to do something about it. That my goal is to develop media projects and videogames and apps- by people with disabilities, about people with disabilities and for people with disabilities. I also want to teach veterans and other people with struggles how to code and produce, giving them a chance to compete in that industry.

It's a shame- The Clinton Foundation for many years seemed to be the gold standard for non profits and many of my friends devoted a lot of their time and effort to help with the Haiti projects and really believed in it. Every time a controversy like this happens- people believe less. Care less, trust less and want to help less. And so we all suffer. How do we recover? For me it's focusing on the positive. On the passion that I have, on the conviction that I can make a difference. Some of us actually want to do good things. "Change" is more than just a slogan. I can show you what I'm doing and I can tell you why. Cocktail parties with the DC elite couldn't be further from what we are doing. But we rely on every dollar and really appreciate all the help. What I hope for - is that people realize that there are countless nonprofits doing the good work every day. And that yet another scandal won't cut off support for those of us that are not in the spotlight, or are connected to big money in any way. And this is the job we will be doing Wednesday morning, come Clinton or Trump. In the meantime, please visit our website at and let's work together!

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