The Importance of Virtual Lobby Week and How You Can Get Involved
by Vikki Jones, CFRE and Victoria Shadle / AFP-NYC Government Relations Committee
AFP-NYC’s Government Relations Committee has been traveling to Albany and Washington, DC for years for Advocacy Days. Advocacy Days are essentially a state-wide coalition of fundraising professionals that annually meets with our elected officials to discuss matters of importance in our profession, the nonprofit sector, and the communities we serve.
In each meeting elected officials and their trusted advisors have been impressed, even amazed, to hear the impact and reach of the nonprofit sector in New York State. They are surprised to hear that 30,000 registered nonprofits in NY account for nearly two million jobs and $190,000,000,000 in revenue. (Yes, that’s $190 Billion in revenue for the state, along with $33 Billion in payroll benefits for NY residents.) We reiterate the importance of the nonprofit sector in NY by sharing that it is the largest provider of hospital services and healthcare, childcare and daycare, affordable housing, youth development programs, mental health services, services to the aged, and drug counseling, treatment, and prevention programs.
They are always interested in learning more about what we do as fundraisers and how we do it. We speak to elected officials about the impact resulting from the dollars we raise, but also the ways we hold ourselves accountable through AFP’s Code of Ethics and Donor Bill of Rights. And we’ve learned through these lobbying events that if our elected officials are not hearing from us on important issues that matter to our field, then they’re going to assume we don’t have an opinion. If we’re not actively bringing to them our priorities and positions on key legislation we’re giving up our right to a seat at the table.
Right now we have three priorities and key pieces of legislation we will be actively promoting during our upcoming Virtual Lobby Week -- the virtual version of our annual in-person Advocacy Days.
- The Universal Charitable Deduction: This important legislation would incentivize giving at all levels as it would allow American donors to take a deduction for their charitable donations, even if they don’t itemize their taxes.
- Postage Rates: The Postal Board of Governors is expected to announce a huge postal rate increase of 6-8.5%, depending on class of mail, while the inflation rate is only 2%. This would have a significant impact on nonprofits that reach out to their constituents through the mail for fundraising, communications, and programming.
- Pandemic Relief: AFP and the Charitable Giving Coalition were key to congress’s decision to include the nonprofit sector in the multiple pandemic relief acts that have rolled out over the last year, including prioritizing access for PPP loans, the shuttered venues operators grants, and more. During Lobby Week, we’ll continue to voice the need for putting the nonprofit sector at the forefront of financial security in continued supports to get our nation and economy back in prime condition.
Now is an exciting time to get involved in the work of the Government Relations Committee -- no matter how long you’ve been in the field you have the right to raise your voice through advocacy work that benefits our field and our profession. Whether you’ve been a fundraiser for 20 years or 2 years, we encourage you to reach out to learn more about this important work. For Emerging Leaders members in particular, this is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of your membership to learn how to advocate and begin building the blocks of an impactful career advancing not only your organization’s mission, but the work of the nonprofit field across the state.
To get started, join us on Wednesday, April 21 at 11am as we begin our advocacy training in preparation for Virtual Lobby Week during April 26-30. And if you’re interested but cannot join, let us know and we’ll send a recording to you afterwards. In addition, as lawmakers continue to discuss tax reform, financial reporting requirements, donor disclosures, and more, we encourage everyone to reach out to their senators and representatives to add your insights on how proposed legislation may impact our industry.
Please contact our committee chair, Kerry Watterson at Kerry@FundraisingWell.com, if you’d like to participate in our Virtual Lobby Week efforts, and to share any issues that you think our legislators need to know about nonprofits and our practices.