“Gen Op” – The Need That Must Not be Named?

I was intrigued by the post General Operating Support Remains the Exception by Andrea Brock at the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, one – because I have some experience in that area and two – because finding substantial funding for general operations is considered one of the more daunting directives to grant writers.

As Ms. Brock points out, myriad reports defend the need for general operating support and lay out persuasive rationale for why foundations should provide it to nonprofit organizations, yet it is still a request oft denied. In fact, foundation giving for nonprofits’ general operating needs remains at or below 2003 levels.

What gave Gen-Op such a bad reputation? If a foundation has properly vetted an applicant agency, are unrestricted funds any more fraught with the potential for misuse than restricted monies? How exactly has Gen-Op become the need-that-must-not-be-named?