This month, we take a look at a few of the “hot button” issues in the news to explore how they affect nonprofits. The first topic, cybersecurity breaches, is all over the news, but the second, while still “hot,” is a bit of a sleeper: This month marks International Women's Day, which reminds us that women leaders are critical to any progress, whether economic or social. So now seems a good time to take a hard look at protecting our data and make sure each of our nonprofits offers women a welcoming and supportive launch pad for leadership. The common threads? Trust and accountability. Which brings us to perhaps the MOST common hot button issue we see in the news: the polarizing and divisive partisanship that makes us question whom to trust. Imagine if nonprofits were no longer nonpartisan. If nonprofits become seen as merely extensions of political campaigns they will no longer be safe spaces where people of all backgrounds and political persuasions can come together to solve community problems. That’s why the National Council of Nonprofits strongly opposes parallel efforts in Congress right now to repeal and weaken the mandate that charitable nonprofits be nonpartisan. This issue is so important, and so urgent, that we are asking you to take immediate action: Show your support for nonpartisanship by signing this Community Letter. Background about this issue is below. Together we must each send a strong signal to Congress that nonprofits insist upon remaining trusted and accountable organizations. Let’s focus on preserving that trust: by protecting personal confidential information, ensuring that women have equal opportunities for leadership, and that donors’ gifts advance our missions and benefit the community – not partisan political campaigns.
At first glance, it may seem easy to shrug off cybersecurity as something that is only a concern for “big” nonprofits. But it's not. That’s why we encourage you to take a closer look at how your nonprofit collects and maintains data. Keeping your data house in order is just like producing accurate and timely financial reports for your board to review: it’s a matter of trust and accountability. No matter the size of your nonprofit, we are sure you will agree that protecting people from physical risks and protecting financial assets from theft are important. Protecting the data your nonprofit collects is based on the same principles of trust and accountability and is equally important. And, like putting “safety first,” cybersecurity is not only about ethics and accountability; it’s also about protecting your nonprofit’s reputation and avoiding lawsuits and/or penalties that can result from a data breach.
This month individuals in countries all over the world observed International Women’s Day; in some places through strikes and protests, and in others with festive celebrations. The day brings attention to the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women, plus the goal of “gender parity.” Research shows that in the US women are still not paid “on parity” with men performing the same jobs. The National Partnership for Women & Families reports that on average white women earned 80 cents for every $1 earned by a man, and at least one study (a year earlier) concluded that in the nonprofit sector the gap widens to only 75 cents on the dollar. The gap is even wider for women of color in the American workforce, with African-American women working full-time paid just 63 cents and Latinas typically paid only 54 cents for every dollar paid to a white, non-Hispanic male working the same job. “Women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women,” reports the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. While the average gender pay gap is 20%, depending on the job category it ranges from 52% to 111% and spans all types of jobs: “There is only one occupation —‘bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks’–where women have the same median weekly earnings as men.”
The Simple Truth, a Spring 2017 report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), concludes: “The pay gap is real … and it doesn’t seem likely to go away on its own.” AAUW predicts that unless there is a dramatic change, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152. Women’s pay affects more than only women, of course. AAUW points out that 40% of mothers with children under the age of 18 are their families’ primary or sole breadwinners; eliminating the gender pay gap would have the additional benefit of raising the standard of living for those they support, namely children.
We hope every one of our readers will join the almost two thousand (so far) nonprofits, foundations and for-profit entities across the country that care about the effectiveness of charitable nonprofits, by signing this Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship to keep nonprofits out of the political fray. Proposals in Congress right now seek to repeal or weaken the current law that protects charitable nonprofits and foundations from partisan, election-related activities providing that - in exchange for tax-exempt status and the ability to receive tax-deductible donations - 501(c)(3) organizations may not endorse or oppose candidates or spend money on campaign contributions or other partisan activities. This law, which is sometimes called the “Johnson Amendment,” has been a bedrock principle protecting public trust in our sector since 1954 when President Eisenhower signed the tax reform bill of that year.
The many local and national organizations that have signed the Community Letter all feel strongly that the current law protects our sector and the people we serve from aggressive demands for political endorsements by candidates and from efforts to divert mission-dedicated assets to campaign contributions. In short, by signing the Community Letter, our readers’ organizations can join thousands of others in resisting efforts to turn charitable nonprofits – that are currently trusted community problem-solvers - into politicized pawns of politicians.
Thank you if your nonprofit, foundation, or business (that supports or serves nonprofits) has already signed the Community Letter.
When your nonprofit signs, it will be in good company with initiative leaders: BoardSource, Council on Foundations, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, Habitat for Humanity International, Independent Sector, Jewish Federations of North America, National Human Services Assembly, Volunteers of America, and the National Council of Nonprofits. Signers also include the Ford Foundation, United Way Worldwide, Goodwill Industries International, Inc., and many other local and national groups, religious and otherwise.
BUT just because these well-known organizations have already signed does not mean that your nonprofit doesn’t need to!
Your elected officials in Congress need to see a very long list of nonprofits in their state that demand protection of nonpartisanship so they will know that the charitable nonprofit community is united and mobilized in opposition to changing a law that has worked well for the past 60+ years!
Special National Webinar with Beth Kanter
Just in time to chase away the winter blues and welcome spring, we’re excited to announce a special webinar on April 25, 2017 with Beth Kanter, master trainer and influential author/blogger, on the subject of her newest book, The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout. As a member of your state association of nonprofits you can attend this webinar for free! (Non-members pay $25.)
2017 is shaping up to be a challenging year. The National Council of Nonprofits and its network of state associations of nonprofits strive to help your nonprofit be resilient and ready for whatever lies in store. Curious about what practices your nonprofit can use to be happy, healthy and sustainable? Beth will share her personal and professional journey toward a happy, healthy culture of well-being, and pass along lots of tips that you won’t want to miss. This program offers a terrific way to share the wisdom of a happy, healthy nonprofit with your team and board members.
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