What’s a Nonprofit Worth?

February 1, 2011 at 7:32 PM Leave a comment

It’s safe to say that the debate over the value of foundations and nonprofit sector is a longstanding one, not soon to be resolved. The value and justice of the charitable deduction is questioned, and others challenge the idea held by many that private charity makes more efficient use of money than do government programs.

From the Nonprofit Quarterly, we learn that former head of President Bush’s faith-based initiative John DiIulio “begins to articulate a concept of the ‘civic replacement value’ of nonprofits such as Catholic Charities. He asks the question, ‘What would it cost Uncle Sam to replace Catholic agencies?'”

DiIulio combines questions of the value of the tax exemption with other kinds of nonprofit benefits (such as government contracts) and emphasizes in his analysis nonprofit service providers such as Catholic nonprofits (including Catholic hospitals) in DiIulio’s native Philadelphia, unwittingly underemphasizing other kinds of nonprofits that don’t provide comparable services.

Nonetheless, it is good to have someone of DiIulio’s stature asking for a defensible analytical framework for examining the array of governmental efforts to exact from or limit expenditures of nonprofits.

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Entry filed under: General.

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