Marshall McNott


Phone: 301-502-6957

E-mail: mmcnott@gmail.com

Litmus Test for Donors

 

Letters to the Editor

Opinion

Even tainted donations are beneficial

 

 
Building 10 on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, Mass., on April 3, 2017. (Charles Krupa/AP)
Building 10 on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, Mass., on April 3, 2017. (Charles Krupa/AP)
By Letters to the Editor 
September 13, 2019 at 4:36 p.m. EDT

Regarding the Sept. 9 Metro article “Epstein donations reveal a painful truth”:

Jeffrey Epstein’s exposure would certainly qualify him as “amoral” in the eyes of many. So the question for nonprofits that accepted gifts from him becomes “Does our nonprofit accept gifts from donors known to be ‘amoral’?”

Medium and small nonprofits depend more on gifts of two and three digits rather than seven or eight. As former president of two large charities in the Los Angeles area — of Watts Health Charities and Los Angeles Mission for the Homeless — I had many conversations about this with staff and fellow nonprofit executives.

I think my favorite response was “The problem with ‘tainted’ money is — there ‘tain’t’ enough of it.” We laugh. But seriously, I decided years ago that if nonprofits were to develop a litmus test for the relative “morality” of its donors, there would be relatively few charitable gifts to accept. That is never to condone placing names on buildings of people such as Epstein but to acknowledge that the poor, the hungry, the researchers, the scientists all need and benefit from the generosity of others.

Marshall McNott, Montgomery Village

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