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Nonprofit Knowledge Matters


It’s graduation season, so it’s appropriate that the trends we spotlight in this issue are those we’ll need to navigate as we step out into what feels like a New World. We’re noticing that national foundations are spending lots of time, attention, and resources, learning to be more effective as grantmakers. How does that impact nonprofits? One way, that we applaud, is that some grantmakers are intentionally listening to their grantees. Perhaps this new world of “listening to learn” can help us all be more effective, and even sort out the frustrating power dynamics between grantmakers and nonprofits addressed in our first article. In our second article we spotlight the millennials, a major force in our new world. Our very own millennial teammate breaks down misconceptions about millennials while encouraging nonprofits to take advantage of four ways millennials are perfect for nonprofits. And finally, it really will be a new world if the Johnson Amendment is repealed – Which is why we continue to advocate for nonprofits to remain nonpartisan. We need your help! Our third article shares many easy ways for your nonprofit – and you - to push back against the very urgent threats to nonprofit nonpartisanship.

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Let’s talk about the power dynamic between nonprofits and grantmakers

The Barnum & Bailey Circus may be ending, but there’s still a giant elephant in the room: the power dynamic between nonprofits and grantmakers. Rather than finding themselves working side-by-side as trusted and true partners for a common purpose, too many nonprofits and grantmakers find themselves circling each other warily. On each side there are grumblings: “They don’t understand!” Just as the circus elephants are retiring, we’d like to retire the power dynamic that prevents true, trusted, and effective partnerships from developing between nonprofits and their funders. Re-balancing grantmaker/nonprofit relationships can’t be the sole responsibility of either grantmakers or nonprofits. Both sides of the partnership have work to do.


That’s why we’re partnering with Exponent Philanthropy, the country’s largest association of funders and the only one dedicated to serving foundations with few or no staff, philanthropic families, and individual donors. We’re very intentionally bringing grantmakers and nonprofits together to explore, “What makes great nonprofit-grantmaker relationships?” We are also exploring how to get there. We’ve just returned from the first two programs in a series of conversations between nonprofits and grantmakers that will visit several cities during 2017.

Read on to find out what we're learning

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4 Ways Millennials and Nonprofits are Perfect for Each Other

Millennials have become the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and employers that ignore the millennial influence do so at their own peril. Many millennials started their careers during the Great Recession, or shortly thereafter, with huge societal pressures: record-breaking amounts of student debt, a likelihood of earning less money than their parents, and a higher cost of living. Despite these obstacles, 60 percent of millennials want a sense of purpose in their work and 77 percent chose their job based on that desire, according to the 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey. These factors create the perfect environment for nonprofits to attract, hire, and retain millennials workers. Nonprofits are starting to take notice.

On our blog, we make sense of some recent data that we think demonstrates four ways that millennials and nonprofits are perfect for each other. 

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We continue to advocate for nonpartisanship – Here’s why you should too! (Plus tools to make it easy)

Last week, the President signed an Executive Order that he asserted would empower members of the clergy to publicly endorse or oppose candidates for public office. Although the impact of the Executive Order on legal rights and obligations is hotly debated, it is clear from his rhetoric that the President has sought to change the longstanding requirement that charitable, philanthropic, and religious groups stay out of partisan politics. The National Council of Nonprofits opposes this Executive Order and related legislative efforts in Congress to repeal or weaken the current legal protections against partisan electioneering, such as pressure on charitable nonprofits, religious institutions, and foundations to make political endorsements and campaign contributions.


The broader community of charitable nonprofits and foundations and houses of worship see the danger of rancorous partisan politics and continue to believe that it is best for 501(c)(3) if the proven protections against toxic partisanship enshrined in the longstanding Johnson Amendment remain untouched. That’s why we are encouraging charitable organizations, their funders, board members, and businesses that support the work of nonprofits to express their strong support for remaining nonpartisan so that, when Congress is reforming tax laws, each elected official knows that the organizations in his/her district and state do not want lawmakers to tamper with trusted current law!


Below are easy steps you and your colleagues can take to ensure the continued protection of nonpartisanship so your nonprofit won’t have to fight off demands (from politicians, and even your board members, and donors) to endorse candidates and make political campaign contributions – or be accused of receiving “dark money” that will be used to support political campaigns.


How? One simple step is for your organization to Sign the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship! Join more than 4,500 organizations – charitable nonprofits, religious institutions, foundations, and others from across the country to show that we intend to resist any and all efforts to politicize our sector by weakening or repealing this longstanding protection in federal tax law that protects 501(c)(3) organizations from demands that they endorse, oppose, or contribute to candidates for public office. Once more signatures are collected, this letter will again be delivered to every congressional office, but this time with an even stronger showing of support from you and many others.


Be an advocate!

Here are more easy things your nonprofit staff, board AND funders/donors can do to remind elected officials that nonpartisan is important for your organization’s ability to serve and survive!

  • Send a letter to your Congressional delegation. Find their addresses here.
  • Tweet at your elected officials directly so they take notice. For ideas, follow @NatlCouncilNPs.
  • Letters are good, personal meetings are great, but a phone call from you now is quick, easy, and effective. Find your elected official’s phone number. Call your Representative and two Senators and tell them to preserve current law that protects charitable nonprofits, including houses of worship, and foundations, as well as the millions of people we serve every day. Here’s your message: “We want to remain nonpartisan! Don’t touch the Johnson Amendment!
  • Write Letters to the Editor: Correct the record of inaccurate news stories or cheer editors on for taking strong positions in support of nonprofit nonpartisanship by submitting letters to the editor of your local newspapers. It’s also helpful to share why politicizing charitable nonprofits and foundations is a bad idea.
  • Put this on the agenda for your next board meeting! Share background with board members and help them understand what’s at risk, and the need to advocate to preserve the nonprofit’s nonpartisanship nature.
  • Encourage other nonprofits you work with to do the same - because it matters to all of our missions to remain credible problem solvers in communities.
  • Forward this newsletter!

Background to share widely

Board members, and even your staff members and volunteers, can be powerful advocates within and across their multiple networks. Please share with everyone who cares about your nonprofit’s mission.

Feedback helps

We would appreciate hearing from you. Please share a statement with us about why remaining nonpartisan is so important to your nonprofit! 



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