While our collective focus turns toward the holidays and the new year, the nonprofit sector also needs to be thinking about the upcoming state legislative session. State lawmakers will be back on the job on January 13th with many issues to tackle, including education, healthcare and transportation.
So, what should the nonprofit sector’s New Year’s resolutions be, heading into the next legislative session? First, the nonprofit sector should resolve to continue to educate our lawmakers about the impacts state and federal tax law changes are having on giving behavior. Are you keeping track of what you are hearing from your donors? Nonprofits need to listen to their donors about why they may be giving less or not at all this year, if this happens. The Alliance needs to hear what you are hearing so it can share that with lawmakers.
And with that, resolve to continue to educate your donors about the tax law changes. The nonprofit sector needs to continue to educate its donors about the fact that Arizonans can still see a benefit from their charitable giving on their state taxes even after the state tax law changes increased the Arizona standard deduction.
With the hard work of the Alliance and its partners, the Arizona Legislature and Governor allowed for charitable deductions to be taken, even if the Arizona income taxpayer takes a standard deduction for their filings.
Make this message a part of your holiday donation information and throughout the year — there is still a tax benefit to giving for Arizona taxpayers that they should ask about.
Second, resolve to get involved in the process. The Alliance will be supporting funding for the state’s 2-1-1 system, a statewide system that connects Arizonans to needed services. Today, this system has no live person to answer calls of people in need, and that needs to change.
The Alliance also anticipates seeing legislation to provide a scholarship for individuals who complete an approved term of a national service program such as AmeriCorps. An additional scholarship incentive could help bring additional interest in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, whose members build capacity in nonprofit organizations and public agencies to help them more effectively generate the commitment of private sector resources, encourage volunteer service at the local level, and empower individuals and communities.
Lastly, resolve to advocate. Our state legislators and Governor should hear from you about the positive and negative impacts potential legislation could have on the nonprofit sector, or on your sector of the nonprofit world that you serve. If you do not tell them about the impacts, who will?
So, as you look toward next year, remember to include in your resolutions a plan to educate and advocate — be involved in the state legislative process with the Alliance. Let’s continue to make the nonprofit sector’s voice heard at the state capitol.
Brandy Petrone is a senior associate at Goodman Schwartz Public Affairs.