Looking Ahead to 2018

It’s that time of year again.  There is a chill in the air.  The half price Halloween candy has been replaced on the store shelves with candy canes.   And I start counting down the days until the Delaware General Assembly goes back into session.

November is the perfect time to reflect on where we’ve been as a sector in the last year and plan our advocacy strategy for the future.  At the close of the 2017 legislative session in July, Sheila reported on the status of our sector agenda.   Thanks to our collective efforts, Grant-in-Aid was funded at 80% of the fiscal year 2017 value, saving $34 million in funding to nonprofits. The state Charitable Gift Deduction remains in our state tax code, despite an attempt to eliminate it.  These successes are due to the activism of our sector membership.

Considering the new year ahead, we need to continue and build upon the momentum.  While the General Assembly reached a budget deal in for fiscal year 2018, the systemic financial concerns were not resolved.  This leaves us in a similar position from the one we were in last year: facing more reductions, the Charitable Gift Deduction being at risk, and worse, nonprofits services being considered a dispensable line in the budget.

This is an excellent opportunity for empowerment.  The Office of Management and Budget is holding hearings with each agency to discuss budget requests for fiscal year 2019.  Many of you have already been attending and testifying about the critical services you provide in partnership with those agencies and advocating for appropriate funding.  Please consider checking the public meeting calendar to find the schedule for these hearings.  Public comments are welcomed!

As you know, DANA released a survey to the sector to gauge the impact of state budget cuts for the nonprofit community.  We are planning to share that information soon as a kick-off for our advocacy campaign around our critical impact on the lives of Delaware residents.

We each have a special story to tell about our collective and individual impact.   November is a great time to set up meetings with your area legislators to discuss our sector-wide and your organization’s specific concerns. With the focus on economic development it’s important to remind our policymakers personally of our role in the state’s economy.

  • Share your stories of impact on the citizens of Delaware.  Our work impacts the lives of people and the leaders is our state need to understand that.
  • Nonprofit organizations are small businesses.  We serve as a critical component in our state’s economy, collectively serving as the third largest employer in the state.
  • Investments in equitable nonprofit partnerships will result in a practical state budget.  Nonprofits provide community services at a fraction of the cost it would take government to deliver.
  • At a time when careful spending is crucial to balancing the budget, and the need for services is great, it is essential for the state to strengthen its partnership with nonprofit agencies.

Together we are a formidable group if we have a plan and start January strong.  DANA will be holding trainings in December to prepare members for our advocacy activities in the coming legislative session.  We are also tracking the impacts of federal tax reform on nonprofits and will be reporting on the progress of the legislation.

Put down that Halloween candy, turn up the holiday music, and let’s work together for a successful 2018.