In the past few months, we've seen a number of proposals from the new federal administration that would have a significant impact on the nonprofit sector. We, as nonprofits, have the expertise and experience to know how these proposals will affect our day-to-day work, and we must use that expertise to advocate for the solutions we think are most effective. Advocacy is our job - whether we see ourselves as advocacy organizations or not. We advocate every day on behalf of the people, communities, issues, spaces and resources that we know creates a better society for all of us. We fight for our causes and what we do every day is exactly the same as advocating for or against proposed public policies, laws and budgets that impact our work and our sector.
There is often much confusion about what 501(c)(3) nonprofits can, and cannot, do and say under IRS law. With the new administrations focus on repealing the "Johnson Amendment" to allow nonprofits to become partisan organizations, the conversation gets a bit murky. But the solution is clear: nonprofits are a critical part of our society and have information, data, experiences and models that can and must be shared. All nonprofits should be doing this. If we want to lobby on various bills or policies that we think are necessary and effective, we can - so long as we register and report this lobbying if it reaches a certain threshold. These things align with our mission and our purpose. But we do not want to be in the position of partisan endorsements of political candidates or political ideologies; Our mission-focused work should not be compromised or used as "leverage".
In recent days, after the withdrawal of the American Health Care Act, many of us are wondering about the next administrative priorities, and how they will impact the sector. Tax reform is already being discussed, and may have implications about charitable donations. Infrastructure bills could have opportunities for nonprofits. The executive "skinny" budget puts funding of many nonprofits front and center. These policies affect our work, and we have to be at the forefront of these conversations.
We at NPCC encourage you to get involved in the conversations that most impact your organization's work. If you are unsure about whether it is lobbying, let us know and we'll find the resources you need to make informed decisions. We need your voice. We need your advocacy.