ACORN has seen its stock plummet where it matters most in just a matter of weeks after undercover videos showed multiple locations assisting journalists in their proclaimed quest to traffic underaged girls from El Salvador into prostitution. First, Congress moved to bar the community organizing group from receiving funds, which made ACORN’s CEO, Bertha Lewis, both complain about unfair treatment and scoff at the notion that they needed public funds in the first place. However, as the Washington Post reports, the private sector has begun distancing itself from ACORN at light speed, too:
The Ford Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation and Bank of America have stopped funding the group and its affiliates over the past year and a half.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a network that helps low-income families with housing, voter registration and other issues, receives about 10 percent of its $25 million annual budget from federal grants, according to Brian Kettenring, deputy director of national operations. The rest comes from foundations, membership dues and private donations.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation stopped making grants to ACORN in early 2009, according to spokeswoman Sue Lin Chong. The Casey foundation gave an average of $270,000 a year to ACORN. The foundation saw good results from the grants and believes the funding was used appropriately, according to Cho.
The Ford Foundation, which has given nearly $2 million, suspended funding for ACORN and its affiliate organizations about a year ago because of concerns about inadequate financial controls and procedures, according to spokeswoman Fiona R. Guthrie.
The timing of this could not possibly be worse. Anyone working with nonprofits at this time knows that donations have dried up anyway, thanks to a crashing economy. Foundations have tightened the pursestrings on grants as they struggle to contain the losses to their endowments from the market drop of the last two years.
These groups have to become a lot more particular in their giving anyway — and ACORN made it very easy for many of them to choose other causes this year. These foundations have to worry about their own reputations, especially now, and funding a group that blithely offers legal advice on tax evasion and child prostitution is the last thing they need for their status in their communities. Some of these foundations also rely on contributions, and they know that passing the money to ACORN will mean fewer donations and a PR battle they’d just as soon avoid.
At some point today or tomorrow, expect Lewis to continue her Baghdad Bob impression and claim that ACORN didn’t need the private foundation money, either. Until ACORN cleans house — and that means getting rid of Lewis and any of the rest of the apologists for the people giving tax-evasion and pimping lessons out of ACORN offices — the organization will find out how well it runs on nothing at all, a level to which it is quickly descending.