National Voice

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While our network normally focuses on state policy matters, when necessary we lift our collective voices to the federal level. 


Our network took action at the federal level to protect certain charitable giving incentives by making them permanent, which would have the further benefit of making them available for more smaller community-based nonprofits that could not dedicate limited resources to pursue them when it is so uncertain every year when Congress fails to re-extend the incentives for just part of a year.

First, we collaborated with Feeding America and Land Trust Alliance to submit a joint letter in support to the incoming Chair of the Senate Finance Committee when he made his first public presentation in his new role at our Member Meeting.

Next, we worked with several groups to secure passage by the House of the America Gives More Act, lobbying directly on Capitol Hill and relying on our members to be talking to their Representatives in their districts. See, e.g., Henry Berman and Tim Delaney, Confounding Conventional Wisdom With a Simple Ask (Huffington Post; Sept. 9, 2014).

Later, when the partisan split in Congress prevented a vote on the America Gives More Act before the election, our network helped push the Supporting America’s Charities Act to a vote just before Congress finally shut down for the holiday. A clear majority of the House voted for the bill (65%), but it needed support by two-thirds to continue to the Senate. Eventually, Congress passed the broader extenders package retroactively, but just for 2014 and not into the future.


In testifying in Congress before the House Committee on Ways and Means Hearing on Tax Reform and Charitable Contributions, the CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits used information gathered from across the network to relay to Congress how vital charitable contributions are in light of the increased demands for services that nonprofits are receiving in their local communities.

Later that year, as the federal government was moving to – and eventually did – shut down, our network created materials to keep the public, the nonprofit community, and private grantmakers informed about resulting increased demands for services and decreased resources to deal with those demands. When individual nonprofits and their staff and board members are so focused on helping people and wondering why they were falling behind and questioning whether they were doing things wrong, external reports connecting the larger policy dots reassured nonprofits that they were simply dealing with a bad set of cards dealt to them. See, e.g., Business as Usual: A Tale of Two Sectors (Huffington Post; Sept. 30, 2013).


After Congress failed to resolve the financial stalemate and put arbitrary across-the-board cuts in place via the “sequestration process,” our network reached out both to alert nonprofits about the danger sequestration presented – greater demand for human services with no (and often less) resources to handle it all – and gather information to show the consequences to the public and policymakers. In the process, we explained what the new sequestration process meant, translated what the dangerous effects would be to nonprofits and the communities they serve, developed infographics about sequestration to spread the word, and invited nonprofits to share their stories to show real-world examples the impact by state and impact by program areas.

We also published articles, and made presentations in person, through the media, and via national webinars and calls to keep the nonprofit community informed about this entirely new and arbitrary process that created skyrocketing new demands on the nonprofit community and private grantmakers. See, e.g., Nonprofits Must Put a Human Face on Suffering to Avoid the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ (Chronicle of Philanthropy; Oct. 14, 2012); Day One on the Edge of the Human Cliff (Huffington Post; Oct. 1, 2012); Special Report: The Fiscal Cliff’s Twin Threats Against the Work of Charities (National Council of Nonprofits; Dec. 3, 2012); Statement from National Council of Nonprofits President and CEO Tim Delaney on Sequestration Cuts and the Damage to Nonprofits Serving Local Communities (March 1, 2013).


When Congress created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the so-called “Supercommittee”) that met in secret while considering a “grand bargain” that could have included significantly limiting or even eliminating the entire federal charitable giving incentive, our network mobilized to alert others, gather critical facts, and quickly rally more than 4,000 nonprofit leaders across the country to sign a joint Nonprofit Community Letter to Congress opposing the idea. See, e.g., “Nonprofits, Tell Congress: 'Help, or at Least Do No Harm,'” (Nonprofit Quarterly; Oct. 2011).

2009 and 2010

Our network protested how the Affordable Care Act had left out charitable nonprofit organizations  -- that employ about 10 percent of the civilian workforce – and successfully lobbied the Senate with other nonprofits to insert protections for nonprofits into the bill before final passage into law. See, e.g., “Nonprofits: We Must Start Beating the Drum” (Nonprofit Quarterly; Aug. 2009).


Our network successfully advocated to insert the Nonprofit Capacity Building Program into the bi-partisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, and then helped the broader nonprofit community secure passage of that Act.

Connecting the Policy Dots

Apart from our network lifting its national voice on those and other federal policy issues, our network also advocates with its national voice by speaking out more broadly on different issues of concern to nonprofits across the country.

Sometimes we speak out in response to requests from the media. Other times we connect policy dots through the two free e-newsletters we publish at least three times a month to spread the word to different audiences: Nonprofit Advocacy Matters (lead: David Thompson) and Nonprofit Knowledge Matters (lead: Jennifer Chandler). Often we find ourselves presenting on national webinars or on the road making presentations and gathering more intelligence to share with others. And yet other times we issue formal statements and write articles and opinion pieces to connect the often hidden policy dots that busy people may not see in their daily lives but can pop out and surprise them if they are not aware. See, for example, the following pieces, listed in reverse chronological order:

See how we also bring our tagline to life by maintaining our network’s “State Focus” and increasing its “Local Impact.” 

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