With a major economic crisis pressing on America's families and communities, the nation's nonprofit organizations are looking to a new presidency for help in responding. And they have some definite ideas about what is needed, according to a new survey by the Johns Hopkins University Nonprofit Listening Post Project.
Heading the list of priority measures identified by a cross section of nonprofit executives were these four items:
- Restoration and/or growth of funds for their field in the federal budget.
- Reinstatement and expansion of tax incentives for charitable giving and volunteering, including those embodied in the estate tax.
- Federal grant support for nonprofit training and capacity building.
- Reforming reimbursements under Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs to ensure that they cover the real cost of services.
"At a time of severe economic strain, our country needs a strong nonprofit sector more than ever," noted Lester M. Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, which conducted this survey as part of its Listening Post Project. "However, nine out of 10 respondents to our survey reported little improvement in government policy toward their organizations over the recent past as well as a considerable need for support to meet the challenges the country is now facing."
"As government takes steps to open the financial arteries of our economy, let's not repeat mistakes and overlook until it is too late the great stresses and strains spreading throughout America's vital nonprofit sector," noted Peter Goldberg, CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families and chair of the Listening Post Project Steering Committee.
Other policy measures identified by substantial majorities of responding nonprofit executives as somewhat or extremely useful include:
- College loan forgiveness for students who choose jobs in nonprofit organizations (85 percent of respondents).
- Health insurance tax credits for nonprofit workers (85 percent).
- A broad nonprofit investment tax credit to offset the unlevel playing field nonprofits confront in accessing capital to finance technology, facilities, and capacity building (83 percent).
- Expansion of AmeriCorps and other national service programs that work with nonprofits (74 percent).
Beyond these concrete steps to strengthen the ability of nonprofits to help those they serve, nonprofit executives also overwhelmingly endorsed a variety of broader shifts in national policy, including:
- Greater attention to issues of poverty (86 percent).
- Universal health insurance (80 percent).
- A community service obligation for students receiving college student aid (75 percent).
The Listening Post Project is a collaborative undertaking of the Center for Civil Society Studies at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies, the Alliance for Children and Families, the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the American Association of Museums, Community Action Partnership, League of American Orchestras, Lutheran Services in America, Michigan Nonprofit Association, the National Council of Nonprofit Associations, and United Neighborhood Centers of America. Its goal is to monitor the health of the nation's nonprofit organizations and assess how nonprofits are responding to important economic and policy changes. The project maintains a nationwide sample of nonprofit children and family service, elderly service, community development, and arts organizations. For the present survey, 1,040 nonprofit executives were surveyed, and 448 responded, for a return rate of 43 percent. Support for the project has been provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Surdna Foundation.
October 22, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEDIA CONTACT: Hillary Belzer