The Soapbox and Toolbox for New York State's Nonprofits

NYCON’s policy framework and positioning is multifaceted and nimble in order to maximize our responsiveness to our constituent’s changing needs, interests and circumstances. NYCON's current policy framwork is broken into five major subject areas.

The five areas are:

 1.) Taxes, Giving & Exemption: Protecting & Advancing the Public Benefits of Charitable Nonprofit:

Charities have a fiduciary responsibility for the assets they receive and administer and an affirmative obligation to ensure they are used appropriately for the purposes intended. State policy should protect those assets and promote accountability towards that end. Exemption from property tax is a constitutional right for New York’s charitable organizations when that property is used exclusively for exempt purposes.  Sales tax and other tax exemptions should be respected. It is vitally important to protect charitable resources and public trust in the integrity of the sector from the for-profit interests seeking to develop new corporate structures designed to access these resources.  These new, largely unaccountable corporate forms would have access to and operate with charitable assets without scrutiny for benefit of private interests and do so at the expense of public trust in our State’s charities.

 

 2.) Employment & the Workforce: Strengthening Economic Vitality Through Nonprofits

Nonprofits are embedded in the fabric of every community in New York State and across the Nation. They hold a critical stake in the sustainability and health of the economy and government at all levels. As a significant proportion of the workforce in New York State, as well as proven job creators (even in the current tumultuous economic climate), nonprofits can and should be effective participants in the development of job growth policies at all levels of decision-making. Nonprofit corporations, like their for-profit counterparts, have a strong interest in maximizing the cost-effectiveness of health care and other benefits to their employees (and their partners and families) without onerous or unreasonable conditions and reporting requirements.

 

 3.) The Public-Private Collaborative Partnership: Ensuring Responsible Policy, Budgeting, and Fair & Equitable Business Practices

The State of New York has a long history of supporting, leveraging resources for and partnering with the charitable nonprofit sector. This financial and business partnership has improved the economic, social, health, housing and cultural conditions of individual citizens and their families as well as their communities.Budget cuts that are negotiated by a few and implemented without an informed impact or cost-benefit analysis on nonprofits and the constituencies they serve, especially those that reverse established policy and funding, are highly likely to produce unintentional and costly consequences to the State, nonprofits and those served.  The budget process is in dire need of informed policy decisions that are made in an open and transparent process.  

Charitable resources - time, effort and money - are far too scarce to divert towards managing the inefficiencies of governmental bureaucracy and outdated laws and regulations that do not serve a purpose worth the cost. Significant streamlining, elimination of duplicative efforts and burdensome requirements, and other reforms are needed with regard to State laws, regulations, contractual requirements and procurement practices. Unfortunately, simply having favorable laws on the books, such as Prompt Payment, does not translate to the state agencies adhering to those requirements.

 

 4.)  Advocacy Rights: Promoting Freedom of Speech and Protecting Civic Engagement

The nonprofit sector is of critical importance to the engagement and overall success of our democracy. Nonprofits often provide a voice for disenfranchised individuals and groups who are not adequately represented in our system of government, as well as those who desire the empowerment needed to advocate fully and freely within the boundaries of the law. The rights of the people to associate through nonprofit organizations and exercise their First Amendment rights to speak freely about policies affecting the public good and a more just & equitable society must be preserved. However, charitable nonprofits are limited in their right to engage in advocacy and partisan activities by federal law.  They thus have less access and influence with respect to policymakers and policy processes than business interests or other classifications of nonprofits.  Additional restrictions to the advocacy rights of nonprofits are inserted in to some state contracts.  Burdensome and duplicate reporting requirements discourage already weary nonprofits from engaging in and contributing to participatory policymaking processes.


 5.)  Public Accountability & Compliance: Ensuring the Public Trust

NYCON acknowledges that the success of charitable organizations depends upon public trust being earned and respected. An appropriate balance must be struck that recognizes and respects the independent activities of nonprofits as private corporations that operate for the public good, while maintaining necessary oversight that elevates CBO's as trusted agents of the public well-being. Statutes, regulations and contractual requirements should support good governance and management practices that are proven by quantitative data to be effective and not based solely on anecdotal information, sensationalized exceptions, or the for-profit business interests of the legal, accounting or other professions.  In addition, when such requirements unnecessarily apply to the entire sector, they force a misuse of charitable resources, diverting valuable charitable time, money and effort from mission activities

 

NYCON develops and promotes an effective and vibrant charitable nonprofit community throughout New York State.  We strengthen organizational capacity, act as an advocate and unifying voice, help to inform philanthropic giving, and conduct research and planning to demonstrate relevance and impact.