I never profess to have all the answers to all the questions. I am humbly aware that, even a year into my job leading the Idaho Nonprofit Center, I will always be learning. Every day I swear I learn something new and valuable that I can put in my toolkit for future use.
I am also aware, now more than ever, that one of the most important aspects of our work at the Center is policy and advocacy. The second is to elevate and champion our work. The third is to provide the resources and training to help our nonprofit sector grow and become sustainable organizations. To that end, the INC also has a great responsibility of sharing what we learn with our nonprofit friends.
Our policy focus is on the broader nonprofit sector. We will advocate for things that could impact our sector as a whole. We will approach policy & advocacy in terms of how it impacts our nonprofits but we don’t often get a window seat view of how policy can impact one of our subsectors and the people that it serves.
This Idaho Gives, we did get the rare opportunity to see the democratic process in action and what a blessing that is to us all. While the Idaho State legislature had already adjourned weeks before Idaho Gives, a piece of legislation passed in March that has, and will continue, a great impact on our organization and our sector as a whole for the good of us all.
Before I begin my short story, let me say that this legislation enhanced and enriched our Idaho Gives experience in ways I can never fully express. If you are not familiar with House Bill No. 46, passed March 20, 2017, I will share our experience and what I know about this legislation.
A few weeks before Idaho Gives, Stefanie Saltern, Secretary of the Idaho Association for the Deaf reached out to us and expressed an interest in attending our local festivities on Idaho Gives, including our ribbon cutting and mayoral proclamation. She requested a sign language interpreter for herself and another individual from their organization.
Having never had such a request, but delighted that we did, we asked for resources on how we could provide someone. We were given great resources fairly quickly, Stefanie was fast to respond. What we found out is that the interpretation services would be expensive for us. Like all nonprofits, we try to manage our expenses as best as we can for all programs and events. An unbudgeted expense can be tricky!
One of our staff members has friends in a Sign Language Interpretation program and we asked if we could use those volunteers. While we have always been required by the law to provide these services, the new legislation (House Bill 46) now specifies the appropriate interpretation services that are acceptable under the law. I won’t go into great details about what you can and cannot do because I’m not the expert, but I will tell you that we did end up with appropriate interpretation services for Idaho Gives. I do hope for a future article from an expert to guide us all!
Just a couple of weeks later we paid to have close captioning of our membership orientation so that Stefanie and her team could learn more about the Idaho Nonprofit Membership program. We anticipate that they will join us for Conference and we will again be able to provide them with interpretive services that meet their needs.
In the bigger picture, I’m telling you this story because it’s important for us all to be aware of this law and what it means for us. What I want to highlight is not that we are required to provide such support, I want to tell you it’s actually a blessing - and a gift. It was truly a beautiful thing to both speak at the event, listen to others, and watch the interpreters translate our words into something meaningful for our friends at the Idaho Association for the Deaf.
From time to time this may be a little extra expense for the Center, it’s a pleasure for us to have them involved and at the table, working with us to constantly support and improve our sector. And we will always budget for it going forward.
Amy Little, President / CEO
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