Officials at the National Council of Nonprofits are also pushing for states to regularly post the average length of their delays in paying contracts.
“Everyone says nonprofits need to be accountable,” says Tim Delaney, the association’s president. “Well, why not government?”
In some states, continuing fiscal woes overshadow years of work to improve the contracting process. For the past 18 months, Illinois has agreed to make expedited payments to charities with serious financial problems. The state also has a document vault, which saved 1,400 nonprofit organizations a total of $40,000 in paper, printing, and administrative costs over three months.
But the state’s unfunded pension liabilities—now more than $100-billion—consume a big share of the budget, leaving little cash to pay charities for services the state has hired them to provide. Illinois legislators this week approved an overhaul of the pension system, a move that nonprofit advocates have long sought, but the effort will take 30 years so the state’s budget is expected to remain tight.
“Nonprofits and government are trying to work together to find some solutions to the unpaid-payments issue,” says Delia Coleman, director of public policy at the Donors Forum, a state association of grant makers and charities. “But a large part of that issue is—to put it very bluntly—the availability of cash.”