Greater DC Cares Closes…and Nobody Cares!?!


It’s been said that the nonprofit sector lacks creative destruction…Greater DC Cares tragically proves that wrong. Well, at least the destruction part.

When I got the news that Greater DC Cares, one of the country’s premiere volunteer hubs, had declared bankruptcy after 24 years of service, it was quite a shock.

The even greater shock was how Washington DC has reacted.

Stone Fuckin Silence.

Now before I unload, I need you to know that I consider former GDCC CEO Siobhan Canty one of my best friends. We are thick as thieves and go together better than peas and carrots. That aside, when she left GDCC a few years back (after 10 years of respected leadership within GDCC and beyond) it was a stable, $1.8 million a year organization that was facilitating over $6 million worth of volunteer services annually and supporting 700 direct service agencies. Not only that, they had won the 2006 National Innovation Award from Points of Light for developing new approaches to skilled volunteering and board development.

Now flash forward. Last Friday, this appeared on their website:

“On September 20th 2013, and after 24 years of service to the DC community, Greater DC Cares closed its doors and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to dissolve the organization.”

No explanation. No attempt to give the thousands of people who walked, raked, painted, chopped or GAVE MONEY any indication of what the fuck happened to this venerated organization.

And save for one article in the local business journal, there has been no hew and cry….no reporting on what kind of bad decisions, lame leadership or poor planning could have caused the collapse of a MAJOR FUCKIN DC institution. No editorials bemoaning the loss. No calls from elected leaders for answers. No rallies to help it meet its financial obligations so that it could continue operations…just bizarre, benign acceptance.

Color me confused here, folks. Better yet, color me pissed off.

I want to know what happened!!! I want to know the names of the Board members, the CEO, the funders who dropped out, the accounting firm that performed the last audit. As a financial supporter, a former partner and a man who loves DC…I think we’re all entitled to some basic info!!!

In a follow up article, I read that the six other volunteer organizations in the region could fill the gap….but maybe that’s part of the problem. When you can drive from Prince William County (in Virginia) to the very top of Gaithersburg  MD in less than 1 1/2 hours, do you really need SIX different groups to manage volunteerism!?!?! How many different ways can you cut a local pie before a piece falls on the floor?!?!

As much as I’m sure leadership within GDDC is to blame for its demise, the pound foolish notion that every county needs its own volunteer group, its own symphony hall, its own leadership development programs, its own EVERYTHING, should surely come into question…along with the foundation communities willingness to fund this intellectually shallow bifurcation of resources.

Anyway….DC’s first, and most innovative volunteer hub is no more…and unless somebody starts pushing a whole lot harder, it appears that we are just going to walk away, shaking our heads and wondering “what could have happened?”. Not me…I want some accountability. I want some leadership. I want some analysis and discussion. I want answers. But most of all…I want DC to care!!