Tag Archives: nonprofit

Politicians Should Look Elsewhere for Endorsements and Campaign Contributions

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For more than 60 years, the Johnson Amendment has successfully protected the charities serving you, me and our communities as a safe space free to advance our missions without the rancor of partisan politics.  The law, proposed by Senator Lyndon Johnson and signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954, prohibits churches and other charitable nonprofits and foundations from endorsing political candidates.

Some in Congress and the Trump Administration want to repeal or weaken the protections in the law. This change would allow preachers to endorse political candidates from the pulpit, but the impact and consequences go much further.  That is why we, along with the vast majority of congregations, charitable nonprofits and foundations, strongly oppose efforts to change the law – endorsing or contributing to candidates, even if by only a few organizations, would destroy the nonpartisanship necessary for nonprofits to effectively solve problems in our communities.

Watering down or repealing the Johnson Amendment matters to all Kentuckians. When the nonprofit sector is damaged, the people we serve suffer most. For nonprofits to be safe places where people of all parties join forces to enhance the quality of life for all Kentuckians, we need your support.

The current protection applies to all 501 (c)(3) charitable nonprofits – including the homeless shelter, child care center, animal rescue organization, art museum, veteran’s aid organization, nonprofit hospital, and your congregation. Your favorite causes would be affected, and partisanship would harm each one.

Your donations to charitable nonprofits are investments in solving community problems and caring for Kentucky’s citizens. The public’s trust is vital to supporting these investments. Allowing people to make tax-deductible contributions to groups who endorse or oppose candidates would erode the integrity of the nonprofit sector. It is in everyone’s interest to keep dark money out of charitable nonprofits and congregations.

Protecting the Johnson Amendment isn’t a free speech issue – advocacy and candidate endorsement are not the same.  Protecting the Johnson Amendment isn’t a religious issue – the implications reach beyond the pulpit.  Protecting the Johnson Amendment is not even a partisan issue.  For more than six decades, the provision to maintain a neutral playing field has been respected and supported by both parties. While nonprofits may take public policy positions that are favored by one group of elected officials more than another group, candidate endorsement or opposition is detrimental to the neutrality and integrity of the sector.

Protecting the Johnson Amendment is common sense.  Kentucky Nonprofit Network, our commonwealth’s association of charitable nonprofits, and the Kentucky Council of Churches, representing eleven denominations, call on Kentuckians to stand with us in rejecting any effort to weaken or dismantle the Johnson Amendment. Send a loud and clear message to Washington that partisan politics have no place in charitable nonprofits and faith communities.

Danielle Clore, Executive Director/CEO
Kentucky Nonprofit Network
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Rev. Dr. Peggy C. Hinds, Interim Executive Director
Kentucky Council of Churches

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Advocacy is no longer optional

To our members – advocacy is no longer optional…

KNN has put out plenty of “calls to action” before.  We’ve asked you to join us at Kentucky Nonprofit Day at the Capitol.  We’ve asked you to email and call legislators and government officials to request support or voice opposition to legislation or policies that impacted the sector.  We’ve often urged (and sometimes begged) you to get engaged and form relationships with legislators so that, when the time comes, the sector won’t be “asking strangers for a favor.”  We’ve created tools to help you easily educate local, state and federal officials on the economic importance of the sector, as well as provided talking points on our efforts to streamline nonprofit contracts with government and update the laws governing nonprofits in Kentucky.

But my email to you today, this call to action, is different.  Why?  Because advocacy is no longer optional. Why? Here’s a short list (though not exhaustive) of issues your state association is closely monitoring:  

Efforts to Politicize Nonprofits

KNN is opposed to the repeal of the Johnson Amendment for a number of reasons (see some outlined in the articles below) – primarily because we believe remaining nonpartisan is vital to the work of nonprofits.  There’s long been confusion about what nonprofits can and cannot do with regard to lobbying and election activity.  Essentially, nonprofits (501 c 3 organizations) can (and should) take positions on issues and legislation, but cannot endorse specific candidates.  Politicians pushing nonprofits for endorsements would put nonprofits in a position that would ultimately put our missions at risk. Certainly, some of our members (some of whom are churches) may disagree, they are ready to jump in to electioneering.  But this is about more than the pulpit.  Read more on this issue…

Threats to the Charitable Giving Tax Deduction and Other Unknowns of Tax Reform

There are few things that unite nonprofits more than protection of our tax-exempt status and the charitable giving tax deduction.  As the federal tax reform process is expected to begin in the next few weeks, its predicted that tax reform plans are likely to reduce individual and corporate tax rates, cut down on the number of tax brackets, increase the standard deduction, and repeal the federal estate tax. Kentucky is expected to take up tax reform in a special legislative session.  Incentives for charitable giving will be a major topic of both discussions – proposals range from removing the deduction entirely to expanding it.  KNN supports policies that encourages charitable giving to invest in the work of nonprofits.  Read more…

Early Discussion on Federal Spending Cuts 

The federal spending plan for the remainder of this fiscal year is unclear, but details are emerging for budget proposals for FY 2018 beginning on October 1. Administration officials have suggested that the President will seek to reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years, with most of the spending cuts coming from domestic programs.  Many of the spending cuts being considered are troubling to nonprofits (and communities), including the possibility of eliminating the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women Grants, abolishing the Legal Services Corporation, reducing funding for DOJ’s Civil Rights division, privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and eliminating both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A steep reduction in domestic spending would have significant implications for Kentucky’s budget, since a large portion of the state’s spending comes from federal appropriations and block grants. Of course, KNN will keep you posted as proposals become public.

So, what am I asking you to do?

  1. Get informed.  Read up on the issues mentioned above; know your state legislators and members of Congress – if you haven’t already, know how to contact them and the Governor; check out KNN’s 2017 public policy agenda and legislative priorities.
  2. Get engaged. Secure support of your board of directors to clarify your organization’s own public policy priorities, as well as those of the sector; register to stand with the sector on February 14 at Kentucky Nonprofit Day at the Capitol.
  3. Get others on board. Please help us strengthen the sector’s unified voice.  Reach out to a colleague of yours and ask them to stand with us – to become a KNN member, to attend Kentucky Nonprofit Day at the Capitol or both!

And if you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, you are not alone.  I urge you to join me in taking deliberate steps to take care of yourself and support your team during these uncertain times.  To stop the unending (and often upsetting) distractions throughout the work day, I tried avoiding social media and news until the end of my day.  Well, then I couldn’t sleep.  I certainly don’t have the right answer yet, but here are a few resources on staying focused and avoiding “psychological devastation in your newsfeed.”

I’m grateful we have each other.  You need us – KNN is here as your state association, to look out for the sector’s collective best interests and keep you informed.  And we need you – we can’t do this work without you.  What you are seeing and experiencing on the front lines is important – please, let us hear from you.

In summary, I know your organization has its own priorities and these may or may not include legislative or public policy priorities.  I also know you are busy and likely struggling with limited resources.  I get it – I truly do.  But make no mistake about it – the sector’s priorities must now be your priorities too.  Let’s stand together in Kentucky and with nonprofits across the nation to keep pushing ahead, to let our voice be heard and to take advantage of this critical opportunity to educate policy makers and the public on vital role and importance of the nonprofit sector.

Advocacy is no longer optional.  

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Five Reasons You Can’t Miss the 2015 KY Nonprofit Leadership Forum

2015-forum-logoI know how it is. You’re on the fence. Or if you’re more like me, you might be procrastinating. But it really is time to register for the 13th annual Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Forum on October 27-28. Why? There are lots of great reasons but here are my top five.

  1. Breakfast with the Candidates – yes, you heard it right! KNN has confirmed that six of the seven candidates running for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State will join us for a breakfast event prior to the Forum on Tuesday, October 27. This is a MAJOR opportunity for us to hear how these candidates envision the role of the state’s third largest industry in their plans for Kentucky and even more importantly, a MAJOR opportunity for us nonprofit leaders to be present and send the message loud and clear: I work for a nonprofit and I VOTE!
  2. Celebrate Innovation and Leadership! The Forum awards luncheon on Wednesday, October 28 will honor the winners of our annual awardsFoodChain of Lexington, Innovative Nonprofit Award; Wendell Strode of the National Corvette Museum, Distinguished Nonprofit Leadership Award; and Dr. Whitney Jones of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, Outstanding Board Leadership Award. Celebrating these recipients is a highlight of the Forum you don’t want to miss!
  3. Excellent sessions! Each year, it’s our goal to put together an agenda that provides you with timely and relevant sessions to keep you up to date, in the loop and on top of your game as a nonprofit leader – and 2015 is no exception! I’m thrilled to have fundraising expert, Kim Klein join us – she’s been on my list of speakers to host for years. Janet Ogden-Brackett with the Nonprofits Assistance Fund is going to share critical information we need to start fully understanding and better communicating the true costs of running our organizations. There are too many other great sessions to mention here, but I’m so pleased with the variety of topics and the quality of our speakers – a truly great investment in your professional development and your nonprofit.
  4. Networking! Attending the annual statewide convening of nonprofits in Kentucky is an important opportunity to connect with your colleagues. Whether it be to share ideas, find a listening ear, gain access to new resources or form a new collaboration – visiting with old friends and meeting new ones is a great feature of the Forum and another important investment in your career and your organization.
  5. We like seeing you! Seriously. Connecting with our members and potential members at the Forum is fantastic! Our communication with most of you is typically by email or phone, so the opportunity to meet and visit in person is a treat.

I know that taking time away from the office is tough to do and the investment of resources to register and travel may not be easy. I also know that in 12 years, I’ve not heard from a single nonprofit leader who has attended the Forum and not felt it was worth the investment (and if you are out there, I do want to hear from you)! Please take the time today to register for the Forum and the Breakfast with the Candidates event – both are an investment in you, your nonprofit, and our sector. I look forward to seeing you there!

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I’m Still Learning

A few weeks ago, I watched as my seven-year-old son encouraged his great-grandmother to play a video game with him.  Gently, yet persistently, my grandmother assured him, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  Albert Einstein had a different perspective: “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”  Whether Einstein would have embraced playing Mario Cart on Wii Uor not, we’ll never know.  But I’ve decided to embrace Einstein’s perspective, and I really believe my grandmother has too – she just chooses to use crossword puzzles and Scrabble to continue learning.

Many nonprofits focus on learning, but that message is typically directed to stakeholders. We aren’t always so great at directing the message of continued learning back to ourselves as nonprofit professionals.

KNN’s increased focus on creating a strong, unified public policy voice for nonprofits has given me lots of learning opportunities.  As KNN launches an all-hands-on-deck effort to seek passage of HCR 89 to create a task force to examine and improve nonprofit contractual relationships with state government, there is much to learn.  While challenging at times, I am embracing the things I’m learning about the legislative process and lobbying – even things I dislike.  I am blessed to have the guidance and support of wonderful KNN board and public policy committee members.  Their combined expertise, my persistence to tackle this important public policy priority, and our legislative champions combined with your partnership on this important issue will be a powerful coalition working to secure passage of HCR 89 – or at least initiate a much needed conversation.

If you haven’t gotten up to speed yet on why this issue of nonprofit and government contracting matters to each of us, please check out my blog post from last week and this updated summary.

KNN will also be learning during this year’s third annual Kentucky Gives Day.  We announced last week that we are moving this statewide 24-hour giving event to December 1, 2015 to take advantage of the growing momentum and success of #GivingTuesday.  We will be learning alongside our members in this effort, so that we can continue to find the best ways to harness the power of social media to encourage online giving.

I once heard a speaker say that growth is uncomfortable – and I believe that’s true.  I also believe these learning opportunities will help KNN stay on top of our game by looking forward and making bold moves to advance our nonprofit community

If you will stand with us on this journey to continue learning and growing, I’m certain we will empower our nonprofit community and strengthen Kentucky.

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