Do you know the color of your donees?
The Wall Street Journal

What if the Greenlining Institute held a shakedown and nobody paid up?

The Berkeley-based outfit invited representatives from America’s top 50 foundations to come to their offices two weeks ago for a chat on the urgent national priority of “diversity in philanthropy.” Among the questions posed: “What percent of the asset management firms under contract with your foundation are minority-owned?” We’re delighted to say that not a single one of the foundations sent Greenlining any data and no one showed up to the meeting. Maybe they’re starting to catch on to this con game.

It’s been four months since 10 of California’s largest foundations agreed to hand over millions of dollars to “minority-led nonprofits.” This “gift” was an attempt to head off legislation pushed by Greenlining that would have required California’s foundations to disclose the racial composition of their boards, staffs and grantees. In the age of Barack Obama, we apparently still need to color-code America’s nonprofits.

That shakedown worked so well that Greenlining is taking its race gambit national. Eight foundations in Pennsylvania have received a letter from state Representative Jake Wheatley of Pittsburgh. “Considering the projected dramatic demographic shifts that are projected [sic] for Pennsylvania,” he wrote, “I believe that it is important to start conversations early on what philanthropy is doing to empower minority communities.” He requested “demographic data” — that is, a racial headcount on foundation grantees.

Greenlining thoughtfully agreed to sift through this data and, as Mr. Wheatley put it, “reveal opportunities to better serve Pennsylvania’s diverse population.” The institute previously claimed that while racial minorities made up 50% of California’s population, they received only 5% of philanthropic dollars. Of course, it all depends on how you count. The idea that a charity must be “minority-led” in order to assist minorities is silly. Should Teach for America insist that only blacks can work in minority-dominated schools, or should Catholic Charities have a racial quota for its employees? Many foundations also do not have, as part of their missions, the mandate to “empower” minority communities. They prefer to fund cancer research, say, or to save the whales.

It turns out that Greenlining’s methodology also leaves much to be desired, according to a recent report from the Statistical Assessment Service at George Mason University. “The sampling and response rate problems alone invalidate any conclusions that go beyond a small and unrepresentative group of foundations in terms of both their number and the amount of assets they control,” says the report.

Which brings us back to Pennsylvania. Mr. Wheatley told us that he got a “100% response rate” from the foundations that he surveyed. Which isn’t entirely true. Douglas Root, a spokesman for the Heinz Endowments, emailed us: “We supplied no data to Greenlining.” He explained that, “Reducing an important issue, and a complex one, to a single data point is shallow methodology.”

Brent Thompson, the director of communications at the William Penn Foundation, says his group also gave away nothing. While the staff did provide Mr. Wheatley with a list of the foundation’s grantees (which are publicly available anyway), Mr. Thompson says they offered no racial information: “We left blank the column that they were really looking for. And we have no plans to keep that data going forward.”

Mr. Wheatley hasn’t released Greenlining’s Pennsylvania report, but we hope these foundation leaders will continue to stand up in the face of this onslaught from the race grievance industry. This exercise isn’t about helping the poor. It’s about greenlining the pockets of liberal political activists.