Other industries have their "Worst Dressed" awards, the "Golden Fleece" awards for public waste, and the Ig Nobel Prizes for dubious science-related achievements that "first make people laugh, then make them think." Until now, the nonprofit sector has lacked its own such award program. The new Just Awards have announced the "winners" for the first year's awards: one for Abominable Press Coverage of the Nonprofit Sector, and the other for Narcissism in Philanthropy.
Award for Abominable Press Coverage
For Abominable Press Coverage of the Nonprofit Sector, The Just Awards panel of judges chose Stephanie Strom's November, 2009 article in the New York Times: "Charities Rise, Costing U.S. Billions in Tax Breaks."
The article reported that the I.R.S. approved 99% of applications for charity status last year, and picked some easy targets to suggest that there are too many nonprofits, and that many or most of them are frivolous. The article asserts that the U.S. government lost $50 billion in taxes due to the amounts given to nonprofits . . . making the false assumptions that a) donations to the nonprofit sector would remain the same without the tax exemption, and b) the government could ignore the enormous financial impact of demand for services (such as emergency room visits) that would inevitably follow from fewer nonprofit programs. A better headline: "Charities Rise, Saving U.S. Billions." Furthermore, the article neglected to provide, as a basis for comparison, information on the many billions more in tax breaks provided to the private sector. The article can be found here.
In making the Award, the judges did praise the New York Times for covering the nonprofit sector, and Stephanie Strom as "generally a very good reporter." But judges felt this story was the "worst story of the year" and that its lack of research led to "bad journalism".
Award for Narcissism in Philanthropy
For the much-anticipated Narcissism in Philanthropy Award, the Just Awards panel of judges chose . . .