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A Unified Voice

From last week’s Chronicle of Philanthropy, “Nonprofits Need a Strong, Unified Voice to Lobby Government, Report Says:”

Nonprofits need a single organization to spearhead a national advocacy network to champion public policies that help charities and foundations, especially as Washington seems poised to consider an overhaul of the federal tax code, says a new report.

A two-year study involving more than 100 interviews with experts and studies of 500 advocacy efforts was released Wednesday by Independent Sector, a coalition of charities and foundations. [...]

“The current fiscal climate demands a strong nonprofit voice on public-policy matters now more than ever,” says the report. “The sector must be well positioned to respond to public-policy initiatives concerning tax laws that affect charitable and philanthropic organizations.”

In sum, the report recommend the pooling of resources to achieve, or advocate for, outcomes that benefit the field as a whole. And in order to undertake a project like that, the field would require a leader (in the form of an organization rather than a person) — so what might that be? Also, that organization would “need to improve how they communicate nonprofits’ benefits to society.”

On a related note, the Independent Sector report states “that nonprofits tend to get involved in advocacy only when they face an immediate threat,” such as a loss of funding or policy change that affects their services directly. However, a long-term “strong push to pass policies that would benefit charities and foundation” could be more effective and organized.

Do you agree with their assessment, particularly with regards to the timing of nonprofits’ lobbying efforts? And is there in fact a central organization that is currently poised to take (or already taking) the leadership role in the political sphere?

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