It’s 2013 – Time to Take Action

texas nonprofit sector economic impact.jpg

Last month, in the midst of the national debate over how we were heading toward a “fiscal cliff,” hundreds of nonprofit professionals joined forces on Capitol Hill to present their case to Congress. As the Charitable Giving Coalition, their goals were (1) to urge our representatives to preserve the charitable contribution deduction, and (2) to initiate a far-reaching discussion about the crucial role played by philanthropy in society today, and what long-term solutions for addressing America’s social problems should look like. The Coalition was chaired by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), an international organization dedicated to advancing philanthropy through over 30,000 members and 230 chapters worldwide.

Immediately at stake, as legislators consider tax reform and deficit reduction, is whether to retain, modify or eliminate the charitable contribution deduction. Doing away with it altogether could result in the loss of billions of dollars of donations to charities that rely upon them in order to provide critically needed services to millions of Americans every day. The issues are extremely complex and inter-related, as pointed out by Andrew Watt, president and CEO of AFP. “The charitable deduction is a critical tax policy tool that encourages giving, but tax policy is only one aspect of philanthropy,” says Watt. “We need to have a far-ranging discussion with policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists, and the public about new ways to mobilize resources, encourage investments in the charitable sector from different sources, and create social impact through collaboration and growth.”

houston philanthropic policy nonprofit economics.jpg

Watt believes that most Americans do not realize the size of the nonprofit sector, nor the significance of the services that it provides. Today, charitable gifts have a total economic impact of $800 billion and nonprofits represent nearly 10 percent of the American workforce. The last true discussion about philanthropic policy, he adds, was back in 1917, when the charitable contribution deduction was enacted! “That discussion had a huge impact on philanthropy and our ability to help people across the country, but a century has passed and so much has changed since then,” Watt argues. “It’s time to have another national conversation—to bring everyone together to examine the charitable landscape and reach consensus on how we can create new systems and tools to bring about long-lasting change.”

There are two ways for members of the nonprofit sector to support the Charitable Giving Coalition’s drive, and bring this issue to the forefront of our national conversation. First, take action TODAY by urging your members of Congress to preserve the charitable donation deduction. AFP has made it easy for you to add your voice by going to the following link: Take Action. Just insert your zip code, and a letter will automatically be directed to your state representatives in the House and Senate. You may personalize and edit this letter (it was written in 2012 so needs a bit of updating) and it will be sent electronically for you. Hard copies sent on your own letterhead are encouraged as well. As a constituent, you represent a key voice that will be heard.

Secondly, join nonprofit professionals from across the state by participating in the first ‘AFP Texas Legislative Action Day’ on Tuesday, January 29, 2013. All activities will take place at the Texas Capitol Building, including sessions on how to engage in advocacy, and pre-scheduled legislative visits. To register for “Empowering the Nonprofit Voice in Texas Policy,” click here. You do not have to be an AFP member to attend. Registration closes on January 18.

Plan to make 2013 the year that your nonprofit’s voice is heard.

texas nonprofits sector charitable gifts impact.jpg
Richard Beeman