Jackson, Mississippi is the New Poster City for Civil Rights

Enlightened thinking is happening in Mississippi, a state that has a reputation for leading with hate instead of love.

Last April, Mississippi governor signed an anti-gay law that allowed individuals and institutions with religious objections to deny services to gay couples. A few months later, a federal judge blocked the controversial law, describing it as “state-sanctioned discrimination.”

Today, through a ground-breaking museum underway in Jackson, the state of Mississippi may be turning over a new leaf.

The Civil Rights Museum “will be the first state-constructed and state-operated civil rights museum in the nation,” stated Haley Fisackerly, President and CEO of Entergy Mississippi.

A collaborative effort between the state and private sector has led to the Civil Rights Museum, which will share the history of the struggle for equal rights between 1945 and 1976. Perhaps, in the future, they will expand the exhibits and collections to feature other groups that have fought (and are still fighting) for greater equality, such as the LGBTQ community. Who knows, perhaps other civil rights movement organizations will join the growing list of culturally enlightening places to visit in Jackson, Mississippi.

The project received significant funding from Toyota, a company that has become a major employer in the state over the last decade with Toyota car manufacturing located in the state as well as the firm’s R&D headquarters. Evidently, corporate giving is very much alive and well. Look for the rise of corporations as they continue to take on a larger role in communities that are looking to make an impact.

Cannabis Gives Back

Or at least its trying to.

A recent article in the Denver Post raised the issue of charitable giving from cannabis businesses. Many nonprofits refused the accept donations from the Colorado Harvest Company – a chain of shops and a shareholder with O.penVape – for fear of the ramifications. Organizations walk a fine line when soliciting corporate donations from politically charged companies, such as those selling cannabis.

Philanthropy is an important part of our culture and corporate giving is a responsible way for businesses to give back to their communities. Corporations of all kinds have programs that provide literacy support, funding for community beautification projects, or resources for volunteer cleanup events. Why should cannabis companies – if they want to use their profits for the social good – be treated any differently?

There are a couple of considerations that nonprofits have regarding this issue: fear of losing their nonprofit status or federal funding and the misalignment of organizational goals.

Fears relating to the federal government may be somewhat justified. There is merit to the argument that many nonprofits may lose federal funding under the Trump Administration’s proposed budget, so there is a perceived heightened risk of accepting corporate donations from cannabis companies.

Losing a 501c3 status status would be devastating for any nonprofit, and there is a lack of clarity in our legal system stemming from the novelty of state-level marijuana legalization. Can a nonprofit registered and doing business in a state that legalizes cannabis lose their 501c3 tax status for accepting donations from companies selling marijuana? Inevitably, this question will emerge in the courts.

As more states work to legalize cannabis, nonprofits should be able to entertain contributions form this dynamic and growing industry. Diversifying contributed revenue streams is a best practice solution for all nonprofits and corporate giving is part of the equation. Corporations that deal in legal commerce shouldn’t be treated any differently from the rest, especially considering that the medical use of cannabis is a legitimatizer that other substances – such as alcohol – lack.

Philanthropy and the Greek Debt Crisis

Following the break-down in talks between Greece’s political leadership and the country’s creditors – also known as the “troika,” including the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank – Greece’s financial crisis has entered its eleventh hour.

While the drama is still playing out, it is all but guaranteed to have an impact on the global economy – including the philanthropic sector. 

Last minute attempts on Tuesday from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to secure a third bailout faltered, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that there would be no further negotiations until the results of Greece’s July 5 referendum on the current bailout package become known. Leaders across Europe argue that the referendum is a de facto vote for Greece to either remain in the Eurozone or leave.

On Tuesday evening, Greece has become the first developed nation to default to the IMF, missing a €1.6 billion loan repayment, entering insolvency and quickly approaching bankruptcy. The country also has the distinction of being the first European Union member to default on its creditors.

The global effects of the crisis are already taking shape. In Asia, stock markets fell 3 percent on Monday, while Europe dipped 4 percent in anticipation of the Greek default.

International turmoil this year has had little effect on U.S. markets. In fact, the U.S. exchange has gone through the longest post-recession stretch of time without a 5 percent sell-off. Additionally, the United States has little direct economic interest in Greece; the nation amounts to less than 1 percent of U.S. trade.

The real threat is the spillover that would occur from European markets, which would take a serious hit following a Greek default and a “Grexit” from the European Union. The biggest fears rest on the potential backlash, which could involve investors pulling money out of struggling Eurozone countries including Italy, Spain, and Portugal, as well as potential bank runs in those nations.

If the more pessimistic projections prove correct and the default and “Grexit” rattle global markets, the result could be a huge blow for the philanthropic sector, which is just now enjoying a return to pre-recession levels. Indeed, the sector broke a new record last year, raising $358.4 billion. This extraordinary feat – which defied predictions that it would take ten years for philanthropy to recover – was aided significantly by increased giving from corporations and foundations, which outpaced the rate of growth for individual giving.

As a Stanford report details, foundation and corporate giving are heavily influenced by stock market trends, and dip accordingly when markets take big hits. This means that, should the United States fall victim to the financial fallout of “Grexit,” the fastest recovering segment of philanthropic giving would face a hurdle to its robust rebound.

Nothing is certain yet. The referendum on creditors’ bailout demands is this Sunday, and a yes vote may pave the way for further talks that will mitigate Greece’s technical default and generate a plan to continue pumping Greek banks with funding in order to return the nation to solvency. But pending these compromises and deals, the philanthropy of corporations and foundations could face the detrimental effects of a sliding market. 

PricingPrivacy PolicyRefund Policy