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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 25, 2003
9:36 AM
CONTACT:  National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
Sloan C. Wiesen, 202-387-9177
E-mail: sloan@ncrp.org

Philanthropic Watchdog Issues Critique on Iraq War;
NCRP Board Questions Impact on Charity, Philanthropy at Home and Abroad
 
WASHINGTON - March 25 - The board of directors of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the nation's foremost philanthropic watchdog organization promoting social justice in U.S. grantmaking, has overwhelmingly approved a statement expressing strong concern about the preemptive war launched by the United States on Iraq and the impacts of the war on charity and philanthropy.

At the organization's spring board meeting in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 22, the NCRP board approved the statement on the war in Iraq, emphasizing the human and economic cost of the war and the conflict's potential impact on the U.S. nonprofit sector and the disadvantaged Americans it serves. At the same time, the statement called on support for U.S. troops and their families, recognizing the hardships that they face by being called up for prolonged service in this overseas war.

"The U.S. philanthropic sector and many of the sector's nonprofit leadership organizations have been unusually quiet about this preemptive war and the wartime budget impacts on the disadvantaged Americans served by charities and philanthropies, " said NCRP Executive Director Rick Cohen. "The NCRP board of directors felt that it had to speak out and express its deep concern about this war and its potentially devastating impacts at home and abroad."

The statement of the NCRP board called on philanthropy to provide more resources and more support for social justice efforts around the globe, to work toward securing human rights, and to support nonprofits that encourage and promote fundamental debates about the civic climate and threatened civil liberties that this war has exacerbated.

"The U.S. invasion of Iraq should make every philanthropic institution think deeply about the challenges to charity and philanthropy in responding to the economic hardships that an exorbitantly costly war will add to an already troubled economy and about their responsibilities in promoting a vigorous and critically needed public discourse about the national and international priorities and policies that this nation's preemptive war reveals," Cohen said.

The following is the full text of the statement approved March 22, by NCRP's board:

"The board of directors of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), dedicated to helping the philanthropic community more effectively serve the nation's most disadvantaged and disenfranchised populations, is concerned about the impact that our nation's military action in Iraq will have on our constituencies, our nation and our world. We feel compelled to issue this statement as we join our colleagues in the nonprofit sector and in philanthropy in dealing with the ways our reality has changed because of this war.

"We are concerned about the United States government's preemptive war against Iraq, which exacerbates the inequality that disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities already experience. Beyond the tragic, unquantifiable human costs of going to war, the economic costs will range anywhere from $200 billion to more than $1 trillion dollars. That includes not only the cost of mounting and carrying out an invasion with more than a quarter million U.S. soldiers, but the post-invasion occupation of Iraq, the costs of rebuilding and recovery, and humanitarian assistance. The economic costs are dwarfed by the human costs.

"For our constituencies among U.S. nonprofits, the war also means a new wave of cutbacks in public investment, as the federal government will have to shift more money into a war budget. The outcome will inevitably be reduced human service and public infrastructure investment-and more pressure on charity and philanthropy to fill the holes in our nation's already frayed social safety net.

"While we are concerned about the war, we support our troops and their families. We call upon government and the philanthropic communities to be aware of the many needs those who serve our nation have. Many reservists forego regular salaries while they are deployed in this conflict. Others called up for service have left families at the brink of poverty because their economic contributions to their households have not been replaced. Even when salaries are replaced, military families are emotionally destabilized by this war effort.

"We are also concerned about the civic climate that this war has exacerbated and the range of civil liberties that are compromised in a climate of war-driven public anxiety. We believe it essential to our constituencies that the United States maintains a vigorous, open and accessible debate about our national and international goals and purposes, about our social and economic priorities and policies, and about the preservation of our civil liberties. We urge the media to play a constructive role in furthering this necessary debate. We urge foundations to support those civil society organizations that encourage and promote debate about our national direction.

"Finally, we urge individuals involved in philanthropy to provide more resources for social and economic justice efforts at home and abroad and to secure human rights around the world."

Founded in 1976, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy is dedicated to helping the philanthropic community advance the traditional values of social and economic justice for all Americans. Committed to helping funders more effectively serve the most disadvantaged Americans, NCRP is a national watchdog, research and advocacy organization that promotes public accountability and accessibility among foundations, corporate grantmakers, individual donors and workplace giving programs. For more information on NCRP or to join, please visit www.ncrp.org or call 202-387-9177.

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