Fifteen years ago the Idaho Nonprofit Center received its IRS ruling as a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Since that time we have gone through many changes but our promise to the Idaho nonprofit sector has remained the same: to inspire, connect, and advocate for a stronger Idaho.
I can go as far back as 2008 to find meeting minutes when the Center formalized the purpose of the public policy committee. The Center continues to do a variety of work in policy and advocacy. In years past we hosted a Nonprofit Legislative Day, a Nonprofit Public Policy Forum, and still publishes the Legislative Watch, an e-newsletter throughout the state legislative session.
We have educated our members and the nonprofit sector on multiple issues that impact the way they do business. We have given voice to our collective concerns, when it was warranted. We have been “in the know” about state legislative priorities. We partnered with the Attorney General’s office on important information and legislation that impacts Idaho’s nonprofits.
Over time, the Center has also provided advocacy training to our members so they can give voice to their own concerns. While the Idaho Nonprofit Center IS the voice for the sector, we’re one voice in thousands and we can be more clearly heard when we all speak up.
This past year our policy committee has drafted the Center’s first ever Policy Agenda. I am pleased to share this document with our membership. This policy agenda will guide our policy committee and board of directors to a decision regarding issues. They will determine whether or not to take a particular position on an issue or to educate and inform our communities.
You may have noticed this year that we have been actively sharing our position on issues such as the tax reform bill, the Johnson Amendment, and universal charitable deductions. The Center does not take these positions lightly. When we look at various issues and policy, we are viewing it through the lens of the nonprofit sector and what harm could come to this community or what good could be realized.
We may not always agree with each other on some of these issues and that is OKAY. We can disagree as long as our underlying intention is clear: we are fulfilling our promise to you by advocating on your behalf on issues that impact your ability to serve our communities and support our quality of life. When that is in jeopardy, the Center is poised and ready to take action.
It is truly our pleasure to be able to do what we can to support our nonprofit community. In doing so, we know that we are helping you help Idahoans in all corners of the state.
In closing, there is one thing you can do right now–today. The tax bill conference committee has not yet come to full agreement on the final bill. They are still negotiating many of the differences between the House and Senate versions. One of those critical differences could be the inclusion of Section 5201 of the House tax reform package that repeals the Johnson Amendment.
A repeal of the Johnson Amendment will undoubtedly erode trust in the nonprofit sector. A repeal will open all charitable nonprofits (including faith-based ones) to unnecessary political pressure to endorse candidates for office. Endorsing candidates for political office will not help us fulfill our missions but will divert critical resources, both people and funds, away from the real work that needs to be done: supporting our communities, helping our most vulnerable citizens, and providing the quality of life we enjoy here in Idaho.
Please immediately call our two U.S. Senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and ask them to keep Section 5201 out of the final tax reform packages.
Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121, identify yourself as a constituent and say:
“I’m a constituent and I’m calling in opposition to a harmful provision that could make it into the final tax bill. That provision is Section 5201 of the House-passed tax bill that is now in a conference committee with the Senate. It is imperative that Senator/Representative [NAME] reach out to every member of the conference committee and tell them the Johnson Amendment language in the House bill must be stripped from the final bill. Thank you.”
Then call your U.S. Representative (Mike Simpson or Raul Labrador) and say the same. Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121, identify yourself as a constituent.
Here at the Idaho Nonprofit Center, we remain committed to supporting our nonprofit sector no matter what the outcome is. Just remember, all of our voices can be heard more clearly when we share the same message. We will be here for you always.
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