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2017 Policy Agenda
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The Florida Nonprofit Alliance (FNA) plays a vital and active role in supporting and representing the nonprofit sector across the state. FNA advocates on behalf of nonprofits of all types on state and federal policies and issues.

The FNA Board of Directors has approved the following General Public Policy Guidelines and 2017 Florida Nonprofit Alliance Public Policy Platform to reflect the issues it will actively pursue to assist our Members and Florida’s nonprofit community.

 

Public Policy Principles

·                     The FNA recognizes and supports the significant and expert role nonprofits have in improving the well-being and vibrancy of communities and residents in Florida. 

 

·                     The FNA encourages and provides a vehicle for full participation of all nonprofits in the public policy arena on issues that affect their organizations, communities, and the people they serve.   

 

2017 Florida Nonprofit Alliance Public Policy Platform

 

Federal & State Issues

 

Government Financial Responsibility

Position: The FNA will monitor and communicate the impact of shifting financial and programmatic responsibility from government to nonprofit organizations. We will advocate to prevent creating unreasonable burdens on nonprofits.

Rationale: Budget cuts to government services and nonprofits can put tremendous pressure on nonprofits. Government services and funding 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, 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 for the nonprofit sector.

 

Policy Engagement Activities of Nonprofit Organizations

Position: Support the rights of charitable organizations to share their expertise and engage in public policy creation and discussion in accordance with current laws and regulations. FNA, however, does not support eliminating or modifying the legal and ethical restrictions on nonprofit political activity.

Rationale: Almost every issue nonprofits face are influenced by public sector funding and/or regulatory activity.  Consequently, it is important for nonprofits to engage in the policy dialogue to help inform the debate and shape the solutions.  Policymakers face difficult choices stemming from limited resources.  Nonprofits are the experts in their fields and without their insights and input, legislators will not be fully informed and could make decisions that are not in the best interest of their constituents and communities.  In addition, nonprofits – because of the nature of their work – are problem solvers; working with policymakers can lead to collaborative activity and increased funding opportunities, which can significantly impact capacity to create community-level change.

 

Public-Private Partnerships

Position: The FNA supports opportunities and structures for nonprofit and philanthropic service organizations to use their expertise to influence public policy decisions for the public good in Florida.

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

 

Nonprofit Regulation

Position: The FNA supports 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.

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.

 

State Issues

Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign

Position:  The FNA supports efforts to re-establish a vibrant state employee charitable campaign that minimizes workforce disruption and maximizes the ease and opportunity for state employees to contribute to the charities of their choice through payroll deduction.

Rationale: The Florida Sate Employees’ Charitable Campaign was created in statute primarily to accomplish two goals: 1) to create one campaign for all charities, thereby reducing workplace disruption caused by charities constantly requesting fund raisers to support their individual programs, and 2) to provide state employees with a convenient opportunity to learn more about their charitable giving options and to provide them an easy vehicle for contributing.

At its peak (2007-2009), generous state employees contributed more than $4 million to charities through the FSECC.  In 2012, the Department of Management Services moved fiscal agent responsibilities from the nonprofit that had been fiscal agent since the Campaign’s inception to a for-profit corporation located in New Jersey.  Due to several issues, most notably the Department’s campaign administration and the recession, contributions declined and fiscal agent fees skyrocketed.  The 2016 Campaign raised only $282,000 and the for-profit fiscal agent took $180,000 for its expenses, nearly 64 percent.

State employees have definitively shown that they appreciate and support being given the opportunity to contribute to the charities of their choice through the FSECC.  Likewise, the charities that are the beneficiaries of state employee largesse have used those contributions to provide services to thousands of Floridians, helping to improve their quality of life and reducing expenditures for safety net services funded by the state.  Having a robust FSECC is a victory for all and should be re-energized to realize those benefits.

 

Sales & Property Taxes & Fees

Position: The FNA supports tax exemptions 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 and legitimate historical reasons for providing tax exemptions to nonprofit organizations:

  • Nonprofits provide services that are critical to societal well-being and 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.

 

State Government Contracts With Nonprofits

Position: The FNA supports 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, we work to 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 are due amounts to an unreasonable taking, essentially forcing nonprofits to involuntarily bankroll the government services they provide. 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.

 

Nonprofit Executive Compensation

Position:  The FNA opposes legislation that caps nonprofit executive compensation.

Rationale:  This could have a potentially devastating effect on nonprofits.  It is key that we help legislators understand that nonprofits are businesses.  While nonprofits utilize surplus funds differently, their operational modalities and compensation principles are virtually identical to for-profit businesses.  The marketplace largely determines the value of a nonprofit executive’s compensation. The amount of compensation is tied directly to skills, experience, knowledge and budget size.  Limiting compensation could greatly affect nonprofits’ abilities to attract and retain skilled employees.

 

Nonprofit Awareness and Education

Position: Legislators will be fully informed of the importance and value of Florida’s nonprofit sector by the FNA.

Rationale: More than a third of Florida’s 160 member legislature are freshmen and new legislators in virtually every key legislative position.  A key focus of the FNA will be to insure that all legislators - practically those in key positions - understand the depth, breath and critical importance of the nonprofit sector to the state and their communities.

 

Federal Issues

 

Incenting Charitable Giving

Position: The FNA supports federal government efforts to encourage charitable giving by individuals and institutions. We also oppose the creation of barriers that discourage 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: 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.  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.