Understanding AB 624

Rick Cohen is the national correspondent of Nonprofit Quarterly magazine. Prior to joining NPQ, he was the executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a national nonprofit philanthropic watchdog organization. He is a former member of the PRE advisory board.

If one California state legislator has his way, his state may soon compel some foundations to let the public know the extent to which their work touches people of color, gender minorities and low-income communities.

State Assemblyman Joe Coto has proposed a bill, known by its legislative number AB624, which has energized foundations to come out swinging against the notion of compulsory reporting by foundations on the diversity of their own makeup and of their grantmaking. The lessons learned from this still unfolding legislative battle might be useful in a future dialogue on the question of promoting more racial/ethnic equity in organized philanthropy.

The legislation challenges foundations to their core. Whom do foundations serve? How will philanthropy address racial and social inequities? Whether or not it passes into law, AB624, warts and all, raises important issues that foundations have often addressed through largely unproductive expressions of caring commitment to diversity.


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