Washington Post Diversions Piece: What it Really Means

By Rick Cohen
          Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ)

The salacious headline of the Washington Post article on reported “diversions” of nonprofit assets reads, “Inside the hidden world of thefts, scams and phantom purchases at the nation’s nonprofits.” Therein lies the problem: the lure implies that the nonprofits are involved in and parties to these “thefts, scams and phantom purchases,” as opposed to victims of people inside or outside of the organizations who were quite intent on plundering charitable resources. It looks to the Nonprofit Quarterly that the diversions reported in the article are nonprofits that had been cheated by employees, vendors, and outside financial advisors, but not engaged in trying to cheat donors or the public.

We plan at NPQ to go through the Washington Post database of nonprofits with inappropriate financial diversions, and even provide more detail, but consider this piece a first part of our analysis, with some perspectives on the revelations in this article that do not deny the facts of the diversions, but put them into context.

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