As government leaders grapple with the difficult task of reducing the federal deficit, there is much discussion and speculation in the nonprofit sector about how key decisions may affect our ability to continue effective services to our communities. With tax incentives for charitable giving, nonprofit postage rates, national service programs and funding for entitlement programs at risk, many nonprofits are watching and waiting anxiously to see what exactly is on the chopping block.
There is an unfortunate assumption by many that nonprofits will simply “pick up the slack” or “fill in the gaps” from any federal and/or state funding cuts. Even if this were possible, we must ask ourselves if the sector should, in fact, pick up the slack – aren’t some nonprofits partners with government in providing essential services? What happens when a partner doesn’t fulfill their end of the agreement? Also, some research suggests that donors report tax incentives as a low motivator for charitable giving. The truth is, we don’t know what the impact of any changes might be. We must ask ourselves, is now the time to roll the dice and find out if tax incentives matter? As the Letter to Policymakers from the Nonprofit Community states, cuts in federal spending and reforms to tax laws and entitlement programs could certainly undermine the sector’s ability to maintain programs and services, let alone expand them to meet increased needs. At a time when nonprofits may actually be the only place someone can turn to for help, are we willing to gamble with the lives of our neighbors and the future of our communities?
NOW is the time to let your voice be heard. I urge you to stay on top of these issues. Inform your board members, volunteers, staff, clients and community about how these changes would impact your organization’s ability to fulfill its mission. Contact your legislators. Encourage your stakeholders to contact legislators. KNN is here to connect you with the information you need. I encourage you to share this information with your colleagues and join us in helping everyone understand the value of the nonprofit sector and the potential impact of these proposals.