UNPREDICTABILITY IN WASHINGTON, D.C. WILL CHALLENGE NONPROFIT LEADERS
Nonprofit leaders across the country and on Long Island can’t waste too much time scratching their heads and wondering what President Trump and Congress will potentially agree upon when it comes to economic changes, tax reform, and other policies being proposed by executive orders. A recent article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy outlines a few steps that nonprofit leaders can take in dealing with the changes and unpredictability that appear to be the norm in our nation’s Capital.
Since 2012, total philanthropic giving has been increasing as the U.S. economy slowly improved since the recession of 2009. Current indicators predict that charitable giving will continue to grow in 2017 and 2018 but conceivably at a lower pace. At the same time, Congress and the White House are going to have to come to terms with current tax policies. We already know that the President wants to consolidate the number of tax brackets, raise the standard deduction, and place a $100,000 cap on individual deductions. Although some financial experts believe that these proposals could potentially decrease charitable giving by 4.5 to 9 percent, recent findings by the U.S. Trust Study of High Net Philanthropy reveal that 54 percent of donors give because they believe in the organization’s mission. Therefore, a change in tax policy might not impact the nonprofit sector that dramatically, however, organizations should be reviewing their missions to determine if they’re still accurate and describe the full scope of the organization’s work.
As Congress begins to take the first steps or missteps in trying to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, it is expected that any changes to our health care system will have a ripple effect on nonprofits working with people in need. Organizations that serve people with disabilities, mental health issues, substance abuse and even hunger have a stake in the health care system. Too many Americans are vulnerable to any changes in our current health care policies, and nonprofit leaders should be looking at alternative ways to work with vulnerable populations perhaps enhancing their mission in the process. Long Island Cares might have seen this coming seven years ago when we expanded our mission to provide direct services to the homeless, seniors, veterans and children. Although our primary mission is to address hunger and food insecurity, we adopted a more humanitarian and hollistic approach to caring for vulnerable populations and high-risk communities and this change has been supported by our donors as well as our Board of Directors and our Staff.
Politics as expected is once again targeting specific causes for drastic reductions in support. Since January, we’ve seen women’s health, the environment, social justice and LGBT causes come under fire by the administration. All nonprofit leaders must advocate in concert for these issues just as the media is coming together to advocate for a free press. A coalition of nonprofit leaders on Long Island need to come together to advocate for those programs and services that are vital to our local quality of life.
As nonprofit leaders we must communicate why our missions matter. We must work with our local elected officials so they understand our role and the urgency of the issues we address as a critical sector in our region. We need to unite to speak up for all members of our sector. Our missions speak to the heart and soul of people and communities. As the recent article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy by Peter Fissinger, President and CEO of Campbell & Company states, “Nonprofits far outlast any presidency, and organizations’ values should reflect donors’ beliefs.”
February 27, 2017