Philanthropy is nonpartisan, so why can’t running our country be, too?

Perhaps you are as troubled as I am that it’s impossible to read a newspaper or watch a news report on any given day and not see another example of a partisan divide that cripples productive thought and action. This is not the case in the voluntary sector, so why is it the case in the public sector?

I am not naive. I don’t suggest that we eliminate politics from the equation, but the poison of partisanship is another matter. It’s one thing to have a variety of views and an assortment of parties that reflect differing – even opposing – perspectives, but it is quite another to treat every statement, every idea, every proposal, every action in a negative light just because of its source.

We don’t do this in the voluntary sector. That’s not to say that everyone gets along all the time or that there are not debates about how best to tackle a problem – but, when issues arise, when problems emerge, philanthropy responds to help without checking on the party registration of whoever crafted the proposal on how to respond to the issue at hand.

Charitable organizations raise nearly one billion dollars a day in the United States alone. Money that helps volunteers and professionals tackle some of the biggest issues and problems we face as a society. When the donors who make these contributions are honored, when galas are held, when ground-breaking ceremonies take place, Democrats and Republicans stand side by side on common ground, recognized for contributing to the common good. Alexis de Tocqueville saw this about the people of America and it’s still true today.

Except when it comes to running our government.

Perhaps it’s time to bring to politics in the public sector the spirit that guides philanthropy in the voluntary sector. Perhaps it’s time to bring grace and dignity to the table of compromise for the common good of our country. After all, partisanship ain’t working so why not try something else?


About ted sudol

Ted Sudol brings a cross-disciplinary perspective to his work in philanthropy & fundraising. Currently Managing Director at CARTER, a professional firm dedicated to advancing philanthropy worldwide, he has nearly four decades as a fundraiser, lawyer, executive, communicator and consultant in the voluntary, public and private sectors. From local to global, his work with educational, healthcare, arts & cultural, and community organizations ranges from designing new ventures, campaign readiness plans, and complex gift strategies for high net worth families to rebuilding and repositioning projects. His specialty is bringing together diverse parties in innovative collaborations. He devises simple approaches for complex matters to achieve successful outcomes. A graduate of Georgetown and Temple Law School, he currently serves on the board for AFP Shenandoah Valley Chapter, the AFP International Education Advisory Council, and the Virginia FundRaising Institute's Planning Committee. He has been a long-time board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Harrisonburg & Rockingham County, Virginia.
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