Nonprofits talking tax policy? Why might we do that?

I recently spent the day with colleagues and nonprofit leaders at the CalNonprofits Annual Convention, sharing the stage in a plenary discussion with fellow foundation CEOs on the topic of What Should Philanthropy Be Doing Better?

While there I was excited to see a new toolkit in action, the product of a three year collaboration between CompassPoint, the Building Movement Project and Kim Klein that teaches nonprofits how to have meaningful and fun conversations about nonprofits and the common good, and the role of fair and just tax policy in making their work more mission-effective. The Fund has proudly supported this work since 2010. Check out the project website: http://nonprofitstalkingtaxes.org

NPTT-logo-4cNonprofits talking tax policy?
Why might we do that?

Kim points in this post to years of government cutbacks taking a toll on the ability of nonprofits to serve their communities. Though nonprofits funded by government grants have responded by seeking money from foundations, corporations, and individuals, according to Kim:

…the math simply couldn’t work: there is not enough money in the foundation and corporate community, or even from the vast number of individuals who make annual donations, to pay for all that they always paid for AND pick up all that the government no longer paid for.

Kim notes that for the most part, nonprofit organizations did not fight these government cuts, or, if they did, they fought for their own funding but not for the principle that government has a role to play in providing funding.

But we also saw a more fundamental problem, which was that, by and large, nonprofit staff did not really have any opinions about the role of taxes and government funding. You can’t express an opinion you haven’t formed. Some staff felt that tax policy was too complicated to understand, or too difficult to change. Some staff felt that there were no good solutions, but most were too busy trying to keep up with their increasing workloads to think much of anything.

We set out to change that.

Check out the toolkit which has everything you need to begin a conversation in your organization or coalition. In the coming years, CompassPoint will integrate “Nonprofits Talking Taxes” into their ongoing educational and support work with the nonprofit community.

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