Association of Fundraising Professionals Weighs in on Johnson Amendment Repeal
Earlier this month, President Donald J. Trump publicly announced that he intends on repealing the Johnson Amendment. Last week, we published an article on our thoughts of the Johnson Amendment and how its repeal could affect nonprofit organizations. Organizations in the nonprofit sector are slowly coming out of the woodwork to voice their opinion on what this could mean for the sector.
Yesterday, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) released a statement opposing Trump’s proposal. Although the focus of the repeal has been on churches, it would inevitably affect nonprofits as well. The APF believes this proposal will “contradict” and “corrupt” the foundation of philanthropy. Philanthropy brings people together to support individuals and organizations who want to create positive change in the world—regardless of their background or beliefs—and the repeal of the Johnson Amendment would challenge that.
“Changing or eliminating the amendment would affect 1.2 million charitable, nonprofit organizations, which would in turn contradict and potentially corrupt the very foundation of philanthropy. Once charities begin supporting certain candidates and parties, they run the substantial risk of being labeled politically, which will alienate a certain segment of supporters, leading to a drop in support,” the organization said.
The AFP is also concerned that the repeal would change the donor’s incentive for giving to a charity. Are donors giving to an organization because they support the organization’s cause and want to contribute to its mission, or are they giving to an organization because they want to support a particular political party and/or candidate? Then there’s the other alternative: Does the donor genuinely support an organization’s cause, but will not give because of its affiliation to a political party and/or candidate?
And what about tax deductibility?
“And what happens to the tax deductibility of their gift if part is used to be support a political candidate? And since charities are not required to disclose donors while political parties and candidates are, will charities now become the refuge of political donors who want to remain anonymous? These are significant issues that directly affect not just the nature and operations of a charitable organization and all of philanthropy, but our ideas and principles about politics and elections as well,” according to the AFP statement.
The AFP is vocal and open about its opposition to the change or repeal of the Johnson Amendment. The amendment protects the rights of nonprofits, and its repeal would affect those rights. The organization stresses the importance of this amendment, “opposes [its] elimination and encourages lawmakers and regulators to consider the full impact of such a move on the American philanthropic system.