'The Tax Deduction in the Big Scheme Is Not All That Important'
Those were the words from Association of Fundraising Professionals President and CEO Andrew Watt at the AFP New York City Chapter's annual meeting last Wednesday. Watt gave a keynote presentation where he "sounded the warning," stating those very words, that "the tax deduction in the big scheme is not all that important."
He did, however, say that the preservation of the charitable tax deduction is symbolic that the government trusts fundraisers to do the job of making the world a better place that government cannot, calling it "an extraordinary, valuable gesture."
Further, Watt said that the nonprofit community came together as one in a way he's never quite seen before on the issue of the charitable tax deduction. It's proof that the nonprofit community can come together and push to make sure the world is a better place.
The theme, however, was that while the charitable tax deduction issue was a positive for the fundraising sector, the real value is that the tax deduction debate presented and still presents an opportunity to bring government to the table with the nonprofit sector to identify new ideas. Ultimately, that's the most important thing. The nonprofit sector and government need to work together, need to understand each other and need to find ways to get those conversations going on a regular basis. And that's more vital than the charitable tax deduction itself, Watt said.
Here are some more quotes from Watt last week:
- "People genuinely understand that what we do is critical."
- "One thing we have not done is define how we make a difference. It's not good enough to just say we make a difference. It's not good enough to describe just one program that we do. We need lay out, in terms of social impact, economic impact, this is what we achieved."
- "It's not about a single win [the charitable tax deduction]. What we achieved wasn't a win. It was a delay. The charitable tax deduction will continue to be on the table."
- "We're not reaching out to each other in the sector nearly enough."
- "Giving is about 1.8 percent to 2 percent of the GDP. It hasn't changed. Look harder — there's a disturbing trend. There's been a huge growth in mega-philanthropy in the last 10-15 years. If giving remains the same, and the level of giving at the top has increased, then there's a falloff at the bottom."
- "Fundamentally, what we do is all about community action."
- "We have to develop relationships with government and business. The influence of business leaders is enormous."
- "It's all about building broader relationships, a broader sense of community."