February Advocacy Update
Meeting with Governor Mead
Jody Shields, Managing Director, and Spencer Pollock, Board Member, met with Governor Mead on January 30th to share data from the Wyoming Nonprofit Sector Report and to also voice concerns on continued legislative budget cuts that impact the work of charitable nonprofits. It was a productive meeting which laid the foundation for future dialog.
There are two critical issues we want to draw your attention to. We urge you to become informed on these topics and share information with your board and staff members. While the Wyoming Nonprofit Network will continue to communicate with our elected officials on issues that impact all of us, it is important that you communicate with them as well on how these decisions will impact your organization’s mission.
Protecting Nonprofit Nonpartisanship
At the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2nd, President Trump announced that he intends to “totally destroy the Johnson Amendment.” The Johnson Amendment, enacted in 1954, prohibits charitable nonprofits, foundations and churches from endorsing, funding and opposing political candidates. For more than 60 years, this Amendment has helped ensure that organizations dedicated to the public good remain above the political fray.
In a statement issued by the National Council of Nonprofits, Tim Delaney, President and CEO, said “Nonpartisanship is vital to the work of charitable nonprofits. It enables organizations to address community challenges, and invites the problem-solving skills of all residents, without the distractions of party labels and the caustic partisanship that is bedeviling our country.” He further stated “Nonprofits are already free to exercise their First Amendment rights to advocate for their missions. Allowing political operatives to push for endorsements would put nonprofits in a position where they become known as Democratic charities or Republican charities and put missions at risk”.
There are currently three bills (H.R. 172, S. 264 and H.R. 781) that either completely repeal or substantially weaken the Amendment. These bills will politicize the sector, subjecting nonprofits and foundations to political pressures and thereby undermine the public’s trust in our sector. There are a growing number of charitable nonprofits, religious groups, and foundations that are publicly expressing their strong opposition to these efforts.
The Wyoming Nonprofit Network believes that remaining nonpartisan is vital to the work of nonprofits and joins the National Council of Nonprofits and organizations across the country in opposing the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.
For more information and links on this topic, see National Council of Nonprofits “Protecting Nonprofit Nonpartisanship”.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the charitable deduction, an incentive that encourages individuals to give to charitable organizations whose missions they support. We are concerned about reports that Congress could limit, alter, or diminish the impact of the current itemized deduction for charitable donations.
As part of a national effort spearheaded by the Charitable Giving Coalition, we sent letters to Senator Enzi, Senator Barrasso and Representative Cheney outlining the importance of protecting the charitable deduction and offering suggestions to enhance it as a viable tool for encouraging individuals to give back to their communities.
For more information and resources on charitable giving in America, see Charitable Giving Coalition’s Fact Sheet.