Local Impact

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The vast majority of nonprofits work in their local communities. There, they contend with daily challenges of meeting their missions. To help them focus on their missions, our network has devoted special attention on (1) threats to take money away from nonprofit missions through taxes, fees, and demands for payments or added services in lieu of taxes (PILOTs or SILOTs), (2) efforts to withhold money away from nonprofits due and owing under legally-binding contracts that the governments signed hiring nonprofits to perform certain services, and (3) eliminating the seemingly endless and costly red tape trapping everyone involved in government-nonprofit contracts and grants.

Government-Nonprofit Contracting Reform

Governments often sign written agreements with nonprofits to deliver needed services in communities because governments have found that charitable nonprofits, which are mission and not profit driven, often can perform services more efficiently and effectively than for-profit businesses or bureaucratic governments. Indeed, governments at all levels depend heavily on nonprofits. Despite this heavy reliance, during the peak of the Great Recession news stories were flowing from across the country about governments failing to treat their nonprofit partners fairly, often not paying them the full amount or paying them notoriously late.

In 2009, the National Council of Nonprofits, working with member State Associations, launched a unique special research-advocacy project with the Urban Institute to first document the extent of challenges with nonprofits contracts and grants with governments and then take steps to improve the antiquated and long-ignored processes that have broken down and wrapped in endless red tape, hurting not only nonprofits, but also taxpayers, governments, and the very people that the government wanted served.

Other portions of this website share information about the complexification and five problem areas that more than half of nonprofit human service providers had identified in a nationwide survey in 2010, the successes in partnering with state governments to make needed reforms, a Special Report analyzing the need to invest in impact by paying indirect costs, the results of the 2013 nationwide survey showing all charitable nonprofits – not just human service providers – reported ongoing problems, the various Special Reports and other data and analyses prepared by the National Council of Nonprofits and the Urban Institute documenting the massive widespread scale of the problems, and offering multiple practical solutions. One such proposed solution – that governments stop the “nonprofit starvation cycle”’ and begin reimbursing nonprofits for the indirect costs they have because of working under contract with governments – was adopted and put in place in late December 2014 by the federal Office of Management and Budget as a direct result of our network’s extensive advocacy efforts in working with OMB to identify the seriousness of the problem and the justice in the solution. Although this project has involved working with governments at the federal, state, and local levels to solve problems of mutual concern, the end result has been substantial “local impact” in local communities throughout the country.

Importantly, our network’s reform work disproves the common assumption that advocacy must be adversarial and confrontational. We have found that government officials and employees are just as frustrated by many of the old and broken government contracting “systems” as nonprofits are. Indeed, seeing the successes of our member State Associations achieved when partnering with their state governments to create task forces to identify particular problems and develop useful solutions, the National Council of Nonprofits invited several government officials to participate in our National Government-Nonprofit Contracting Reform Task Force. These dedicated leaders have returned value to taxpayers and proved that in many ways “applied advocacy” can mean “solve problems together.”

Discover how we also bring our tagline to life by lifting our network’s “National Voice” and maintaining its “State Focus.”  

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