Community Search
FNA Public Policy Issues
Share |

FNA Public Policy Guidelines

 

The Florida Nonprofit Alliance (FNA) plays a vital and active role in supporting and representing the nonprofit sector across the state. Among others, FNA participates in advocacy, public policy, and lobbying on behalf of nonprofits of all types on state level issues as well as Federal policies. The FNA Board of Directors has approved the following General Public Policy Guidelines to assist with the government relations and public policy work of its staff, board, and members.

 

 Public Policy Principles

 

Five basic principles drive the general public policy work of the Florida Nonprofit Alliance:

 

Principles regarding the nonprofit sector’s right to participate in the public square:

  1.  Advocate for full participation of all types of nonprofits in public policy dialogue and advocacy that affects their organizations, communities, and the people they serve.   
  2. Recognize and support the significant and expert role nonprofits have in improving the well-being and vibrancy of communities and residents in Florida. 

  Principles regarding nonprofits and what we expect of ourselves:

  1. Encourage collaboration among nonprofits of all scopes and missions.
  2. Encourage the growth, maintenance and economic health of the nonprofit sector.
  3. Promote the transparency and accountability of nonprofit agencies for the public good.


PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES

  

1. Government Financial Responsibilities

 

Position: Monitor and communicate the impact of shifting financial and programmatic responsibility from government to nonprofit organizations; and, if necessary, take appropriate action to prevent creating unreasonable burdens on nonprofits. Whenever possible and practical, work in partnership with philanthropic allies to actively educate public officials about the role and capacity of nonprofits.

 

Rationale: Large budget cuts to both government services and nonprofits put tremendous pressure on nonprofits. Services are not able to be maintained in many instances, and securing limited philanthropic and private funding to replace these funds for services is often an impossible challenge. In order to manage expectations about the nonprofit sector’s ability to fill gaps created by state budget cuts—both in government services and in grants to nonprofits—a proactive strategy to develop productive relationships with public officials is warranted. It is critical to obtaining positive outcomes for the larger community, as well as the nonprofit sector.

  

2.     Sales & Property Taxes & Fees

 

Position: Promote tax exemption for nonprofits and oppose legislation at the state or local levels that would extend the sales or property tax, or user fees in lieu of taxes, to nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations in Florida.

 

Rationale: There are two commonly cited historical reasons for providing tax exemptions to nonprofit organizations:

  • Nonprofits provide services that are critical to societal well-being; services that the private and government sectors cannot or will not provide: There are some goods and services that are vital to our communities but that are not profitable enough for businesses to provide at the rate at which the public needs or wants them (day care centers, homeless shelters, food banks, cultural amenities involving art programs, environmental protection, etc.). This provides a strong rationale for government to provide tax exemptions to nonprofit organizations to encourage them to provide these goods and services that are vital to a well-functioning society.

  • Nonprofits relieve government's burden: Nonprofits provide many important community services that government might otherwise be required to offer but does not offer due to a lack of resources or because there is an inadequate political will for their provision. Through tax exemptions, governments support the work of nonprofits to provide these services and receive a direct benefit.

3. State Government Contracts With Nonprofits

Position: Support efforts to ensure that state government agencies do not delay payments they owe to nonprofits for services delivered pursuant to legal contracts, and that nonprofits do not bear financial risk of late payments. Likewise, ensure that state government agencies are paying appropriate indirect cost reimbursement according to Federal guidelines when Federal funds are passed through the state.

 

Rationale: Failure by governments to pay their bills to nonprofits when they’re due amounts to an unreasonable taking—essentially forcing nonprofits to involuntarily bankroll the government services they provide. By withholding payments to nonprofits, governments effectively are taking money owed to nonprofits and using it as free financing. Nonprofits that do not receive payments on time from government often have to secure what are essentially “bridge loans” to fill the gap until government pays what it owes, and these nonprofits end up paying the interest—costs incurred because governments failed to honor their contracts.

 

Nonprofits are often required to shoulder the costs of providing programmatic services without receiving adequate funding to run the operations of the agency. Overhead and administrative costs are part of every government and private sector operation and should be treated the same for nonprofits.

4.     Public-Private Partnerships

Position: Create opportunities and structures for nonprofit and philanthropic service organizations to bring their expertise to influence public policy resource allocation decisions for the public good in Florida.

 

Rationale:  Taxpayers, residents, and the economy all benefit when the public and private sectors work together.  There is great value in public and private entities coming together to ensure that Florida’s investment of public dollars is being used as effectively as possible.  Public-private partnerships can help to leverage private funding by aligning public and private support to best meet community needs.

5. Nonprofit Regulation

 

Position: Support policies that promote effective management of charitable resources, appropriate transparency, ethical conduct, a safe environment for charitable giving, and reasonable access to information, without placing undue or unreasonable burdens on nonprofits.

  • Increased Transparency: Support efforts to increase nonprofit transparency through improved tax forms, mandatory electronic filing, and improved public access to information.

  • Improved Governance: Support improved nonprofit governance through appropriate legal requirements on conflicts of interest, financial audits, and board responsibilities.

  • Adequate IRS Oversight: Support adequate IRS oversight of tax-exempt entities, including reviews to ensure that returns filed by nonprofit organizations meet the legal requirements for full and accurate disclosure.

  • Nonprofit Disclosure: Support nonprofit disclosure as an important tool for transparency, yet oppose any legislation or regulation that would create excessive or burdensome reporting requirements for nonprofits.

Rationale: Nonprofits serve the greater good for our communities and, therefore, are an asset for everyone.  Regulations that help with transparency and accountability without placing unnecessary operational and financial burdens on nonprofits build trust from donors, clients, government entities, and key stakeholders. FNA encourages voluntary efforts of self-regulation within the sector, and supports appropriate external enforcement for nonprofit compliance and oversight.

6.     Incenting Charitable Giving

Position: Charitable giving by individuals and institutions should be highly encouraged in public policy decisions while barriers for such giving should be discouraged.

  • Federal tax policy is an appropriate and effective tool to strengthen the tradition of Americans helping their neighbors in need and fostering civil society’s institutions through charitable giving.

  • Simplification of charitable giving elements of the federal tax policy is a laudable goal as long as such simplification does not adversely impact charitable giving.

  • Federal tax policy should allow for long-term investment of charitable assets.

  • Federal tax policy should encourage charitable giving by individuals at all income levels and do so equitably.

    Rationale: It is likely that comprehensive tax reform will advance in Congress in the next few years, and it is likely that future tax reform proposals will include provisions that would impact charitable giving and the charitable sector. Adopting the above framework will allow FNA to take positions quickly on tax reform measures included in future tax reform proposals.

7. Lobbying Activities of Nonprofit Organizations

Position: Support the rights of charitable organizations to continue their involvement in public policy debates in accordance with the current rules and regulations, and oppose additional limitations on the ability of nonprofit organizations to participate in the public policy process.