The diversity police are alive and well in California: The California Assembly recently passed a bill mandating that foundations gather information about the gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation of its members, staff, and board of directors. This information would be reported on the organization’s website and in its annual report.
David Lehrer and Joe Hicks point out the obvious problems in the L.A. Times:
First, the minority or sexual orientation makeup of a nonprofit’s board, staff or beneficiaries should in no way be the measure of whether a nonprofit does a good job. As the recent, tragic story of Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital made clear to Angelenos, the minority status of decision-makers and staff guarantees very little in terms of outcomes.
Second, the universe of the underserved is not defined by race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The poor and disadvantaged come in all sizes, shapes, colors and sexual orientation. Focusing on selected groups looks more like special pleading and identity politics than true concern for the disadvantaged.
Finally, the state should not be subtly directing where foundations spend their charitable dollars. Just as private individuals don’t want the government looking over their shoulders when they write charitable checks (so long as the recipients are tax exempt and legal), foundations should not have their discretion impinged upon by someone else’s notions of what is appropriate.
The Wall Street Journal points out the problem of donor intent:
There’s also the little problem of accountability and donor intent. Private citizens typically establish foundations with specific charitable goals in mind — such as wetlands conservation, or medical research, or even promoting free market ideas. If donors are suddenly supposed to allocate grants by the color or sexual lifestyle of the grantee, that donor intent will be distorted at the very least. Presumably we want money for cancer research to support the most promising research ideas, not to be based on whether the labs have a rainbow coalition of Ph.Ds. The goal is to cure cancer.