Hold the door on the DSOs - SaintPetersBlog

Hold the door on the DSOs

Now that Pitbull has opened Pandora’s Box, all sorts of corporate welfare stories are flying around where Richard Corcoran can see them. Last week, the University of Central Florida (UCF) put itself on the radar with its unprecedented decision to turn a private, not-for-profit outfit called Limbitless into a university direct-support organization (DSO).

Limbitless is by all accounts doing the Lord’s work. A creation of UCF engineering students, the company makes artificial limbs from 3D printers and enlists celebrities like Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., to deliver them to kids who would otherwise have to do without. So far, around 15 families have benefited from Limbitless’ ingenuity and generosity.

Everyone should hope that these kinds of young people can build these kinds of ideas into ventures that generate profits and enable them to do well by doing good.  And everyone who thinks that government should not be in the business of “picking winners and losers ” should say, “Whoa!”

As a nonprofit, Limbitless has had to compete in the real world for whatever it needs to fund its overhead. With the magic and fairy dust of DSO status, the overhead burdens are lifted. UCF will furnish Limbitless with free office space, lawyers, flacks, and the priceless imprimatur of the nation’s second-largest university.

DSOs have been proliferating like kudzu for decades and performing the same function. The whole point of a DSO is to provide a thick and shady haven. Reporters are rarely seen, except when the DSO does something spectacularly stupid, which has been known to happen.

Nonprofits, too, have been breeding grounds for scandal. What UCF has done is unprecedented for a reason. Let’s hope it’s not too late to hold the door.

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Florence Beth Snyder is a Tallahassee-based lawyer and consultant.
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