Our Man in DC
National Council of Nonprofits’ Tim Delaney
Fred Scaglione, New York Nonprofit Press
He’s our man in DC. And, for once we’re not talking about Barack Obama.
This article was based on a January 16th interview with Tim Delaney on Nonprofit Voices, a new blog radio program hosted by Doug Sauer, CEO of the New York Council of Nonprofits (formerly the Council of Community Services of New York State), and Fred Scaglione, Editor of the New York Nonprofit Press. Hear this and future broadcasts of Nonprofit Voices by going to our website – www.nynp.biz or the Council website www.nycon.org
As President and CEO at the National Council of Nonprofits (NCN), Tim Delaney’s job is to ensure that the U.S. government – President, Congress and the whole Executive Branch – are aware of and responsive to the issues and concerns of the nation’s one million- plus nonprofit organizations.
“We are called the ‘nonprofit sector’, the ‘not-for-profit sector’, the ‘charitable sector’, the ‘volunteer sector’. I submit that we are the invisible sector because so many people overlook us,” says Delaney. “When government meets, it often forgets about us.” Delaney is hopeful that this will change with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation’s 44th President. “We will have a seat at the table,” he says.
Early in January, Delaney was invited to meet with a member of the Obama transition
team and offer recommendations on a variety of issues important to the nonprofit sector. In response, NCN expressed support for The GIVE Act which would reauthorize the Corporation for National and Community Service, eliminate discrimination against volunteers in calculating mileage rate deductions,
and provide additional incentives for charitable giving.
“We recommend elevating the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community
Service to a Cabinet-level position,” says Delaney. “We represent about 10 percent of the nation’s workforce. We are bigger than the auto industry and the financial services industry. Yet no one in government is talking
about nonprofit issues, in part because there is no institutional representation. We think it is important to get a cabinet level position so someone is tasked with being the formal liaison to the nonprofit sector.”
NCN also strongly supported Obama’s own plan for creation of a Social Entrepreneurship
Agency for Nonprofits within the Corporation for National and Community Service. “It is something we feel should definitely occur within the first 100 days of the new administration,” says Delaney. There are plenty of issues to address. “In many ways, the nonprofit sector has been bailing out governments for years,” explains Delaney. “The government has transferred much of the work it used to do to nonprofits but did not transfer full funding with it. We should be entitled to full reimbursement rates and full administrative costs. We should not be forced to go out and beg or sometimes borrow to do the government’s work."
These long standing issues, together with the more recent impacts of the nation’s economic
crisis, are threatening the very stability of many nonprofit organizations. “There is a great deal of concern that the social safety net that the nonprofit sectors plays for American society is starting to unravel,” says Delaney. “We have people losing their jobs, corporations going out of business, people losing
their homes and their health care benefits.
All these forces are making Americans turn to get more assistance from human service providers. At the same time, resources available to us are nose-diving. Corporations with no profits can not give as much. Foundations have seen as much as 30-40% of their assets evaporate. Governments are slashing their contracts and grants. Individuals don’t have as much to give.”
As one response, NCN is urging the the establishment of a Community Services Protection Fund “to ensure that basic services continue to be available.” This fund “should focus on restoring the public/private covenant between governments and nonprofits by investing in nonprofits that perform work that traditionally has been performed and/or funded by government. Therefore, funds to nonprofits under this recommendation would be simply those funds government should have been spending all along,” said NCN in its recommendations.
“To ensure that funds go to proven programs providing basic human services, consideration should be given to establishing a grants distribution center in each state that draws from community foundations, United Ways, state nonprofit associations, and private grantmaking organizations.
The community and private foundations and United Ways already have grant distribution
systems, and the state nonprofit associations can add informed statewide perspectives.”
NCN did not lay out a dollar target for this proposal. “We wanted to create the concept
and explain what the great need is and have responsible dollar figures as part of the
process,” explains Delaney.
NCN also recommended that the new administration’s emerging fiscal stimulus plan
“focus first on maximizing operating budget relief for state and local governments.”
“If we get money to state and local governments so they can pay their existing contracts,
then there will be more services continuing for needy Americans,” says Delaney.
“And, nonprofits providing those services won’t be laying off people themselves further
adding to the problem.”
Delaney is also urging Congress and the Administration to broaden their horizon when looking for “shovelready” projects to help stimulate the economy. What is the difference between a city receiving stimulus money for a public works project and a Boys and Girls Club receiving funding to build a new gymnasium that will serve the community for years to come? Both create jobs now and benefits in the future.
Perhaps the best news for nonprofits is the sense of connection which the new president already feels
to the sector. “They grew up working through community organizations,” says Delaney,
echoing the comments of an Obama Transition Team member. “She was very encouraging
as to how the Obamas view nonprofits and the important role we play in society.”
In fact, NCN prefaced its recommendations to the President-Elect by noting that
“nonprofits have touched virtually every stage of your life. We recognize that your
lifelong immersion in nonprofits includes the following:
• Being born in a nonprofit hospital;
• Your middle school and high school;
• Studying at a nonprofit college;
• Attending a nonprofit university;
• Attending a nonprofit law school;
• Working several years at nonprofits in New York and Chicago;
• Teaching law at a nonprofit university;
• Playing basketball at different nonprofits;
• Serving as a board member;
• Getting married in a nonprofit;
• Marrying the leader of a community nonprofit who became an executive at a nonprofit hospital; and
• Soon sending your daughters to a nonprofit school.”
How can local nonprofits participate in this national effort?
“If you want change, don’t sit back on the sidelines,” says Delaney. “We need your voices even louder now than back in November.” He urged nonprofits to join NCN’s two member associations in New York -- the New York Council of Nonprofits (www.nycon.org), whose CEO, Doug Sauer, is also NCN’s Board Chair, and the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York (www.npccny.org.) “The more you are involved with those groups, the louder your voices will be heard in Albany and here in DC. We need you.”