Charities Say Government Is Ignoring Them in Crisis
March 5, 2009, The New York Times — Like many for-profit companies, charities are seeking help from the government, and they are upset that policy makers do not understand how much the recession has hurt them.
Last week, nonprofit leaders representing thousands of organizations across the country signed on to a manifesto that calls on political leaders to support the work of nonprofits.
“One of the messages of this declaration is that the partnership between us and the government isn’t working, and that’s not good for the country,” said Lester M. Salamon, director of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University and author of the manifesto, titled “Forward Together: Empowering America’s Citizen Sector for the Change We Need.”
President Obama’s budget proposal came as a slap in the face to many nonprofits, which had thought they had a friend in him because of his early work as a community organizer.
The administration has also asked nonprofit leaders to serve on advisory panels and called on Americans to do volunteer work.
While the Independent Sector, a nonprofit trade association in Washington, has proposed increasing tax deductions for donations to nonprofits, the Obama budget calls for limiting such deductions for the most wealthy.
Diana Aviv, chief executive of the organization, has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill and at the White House, pushing ideas that would buoy nonprofits, including a bridge-loan fund to help strapped charities and eliminating the excise tax that foundations pay on their investment income so they will have more money to give away.
“We heard from lots of staff people on the Hill that some of them were getting tired of nonprofit organizations coming to them with their hands out when they were working on the stimulus package,” Ms. Aviv said. “They felt it was unseemly — now, how are we supposed to respond to that?”