Outside of the biggest players, the nonprofit world hasn't been known as a lobbying juggernaut and that's gotta change. At least that's according to Tim Delaney of the National Council of Nonprofits, who told a conference of nonprofit trustees that they have to mount an aggressive defense against lawmakers looking to slash their budgets.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy's Holly Hall reports:
To bolster advocacy by board members, he urged trustees to create special public-policy committees to focus attention on the big issues in government spending that affect their organizations. Such committees are not common, he said, but are increasingly needed at a time when governments are making such big changes in how they support charities and the people they serve. ...
He said he worried that many nonprofit trustees would be deterred from participating in advocacy because of bad advice from local lawyers. He said he has heard lawyers suggest that charities must refrain from any effort to influence lawmakers and other government officials. Charities face limits to how much advocacy they can do, and they are not permitted to get involved in partisan politics, but there is still plenty of room for them to make their views known, notes Mr. Delaney, who served as solicitor general in Arizona and has had a long legal career.
Much of the job to be done in coming months, says Mr. Delaney, has nothing to do with the kind of arm twisting many people may associate with lobbying. Instead, it is more important to educate lawmakers about how nonprofit groups work and where their money comes from. Many don't understand the basics of how nonprofits will be affected by government cuts, he says.