Each year, the average American household donates almost $2700 to charity. Yet, most donors know little about the American charitable sector and the nonprofit organizations they support. In With Charity For All, former NPR CEO Ken Stern exposes a field that few know: 1.1 million organizations, 10% of the national workforce, and $1.5 trillion in annual revenues. He chronicles the many flaws in the charity system, from tax-exempt charities such as bowl games, roller derby leagues, and beer festivals, to charitable hospitals that pay their executives into the millions, to–worst of all–organizations that raise millions of dollars without ever cracking the problem they have pledged to solve.
With Charity For All provides an unflinching look at the philathropic sector but also offers an inspiring prescription for individual giving and widespread reform.
About With Charity for All
Vast and largely unexamined, the world of American charities accounts for fully 10 percent of economic activity in this country, yet operates with little accountability, no real barriers to entry, and a stunning lack of evidence of effectiveness. In With Charity for All, Ken Stern reveals a problem hidden in plain sight and prescribes a whole new way for Americans to make a difference.
Each year, two thirds of American households donate to charities, with charitable revenues exceeding one trillion dollars. Yet while the mutual fund industry employs more than 150,000 people to rate and evaluate for-profit companies, nothing remotely comparable exists to monitor the nonprofit world. Instead, each individual is on his or her own, writing checks for a cause and going on faith. Ken Stern, former head of NPR and a long-time nonprofit executive, set out to investigate the vast world of U.S. charities and discovered a sector hobbled by deep structural flaws. Unlike private corporations that respond to market signals and go out of business when they fail, nonprofit organizations have a very low barrier to entry (the IRS approves 99.5 percent of applications) and once established rarely die. From water charities aimed at improving life in Africa to drug education programs run by police officers in thousands of U.S. schools, and including American charitable icons such as the Red Cross, Stern tells devastating stories of organizations that raise and spend millions of dollars without ever cracking the problems they set out to solve. But he also discovered some good news: a growing movement toward accountability and effectiveness in the nonprofit world. With Charity for All is compulsively readable, driven in its early pages by the plight of millions of Americans donating to good causes to no good end, and in its last chapters by an inspiring prescription for individual giving and widespread reform.
“Smart and scathing.” —Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times columnist and co-author of Half the Sky
“An eye-popping—and devastatingly detailed—critique.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Stern makes a strong case that the average American donor has become a sucker. . . . A good guide to what makes an effective charity.” —Los Angeles Times
“Eye-opening. . . . Stern is calling for donors to . . . rethink the way they give in order to be the impetus for change.” —The Washington Post
“Informative. . . . Stern covers an enormous amount of non-profit ground . . . Feisty.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“[With Charity for All is] more exasperated than mean, more provocative than shrill, and counterintuitive instead of purveying stale conventional wisdom. Stern’s advice is consequential, because if followed it will alter the charitable realm.” —USA Today
“[With Charity for All]will be particularly beneficial to those conservatives whose reflexive answer to every question about how to limit government is ‘civil society’. . . . [We] must therefore devote serious attention to the health of the charitable sector. . . . Ken Stern offers essential guidance on where to start.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Stern is an engaging storyteller, and his catalog of venality and graft in the charitable sector borders on farce. . . . His insistence on this fundamental question about the purpose of American charity is the great and original strength of this book.” —Washington Monthly
“[A] devastatingly detailed critique. . . . With Charity for All makes a compelling case that philanthropic organizations are rife with theft—both grand and petty—grotesquely high salaries, waste and incompetence, and subject to virtually no oversight.” —Tulsa World “[Stern] fills the text with insightful, vivid examples. . . . A trove of useful insider wisdom.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[A] provocative exposé. . . . For anyone who has given time or money to not-for-profits, Stern’s critique will prove both disturbing and thought-provoking.” —Publishers Weekly