I was pleased to see President Obama hold a special event at the White House to spotlight nonprofits engaged in innovative and effective programs. Earlier this year, the president created a White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, which is now working with a $50 million Innovation Fund that will, in the president’s words, "discover and evaluate the very best programs in our communities."
I was intrigued by his talk of "rigorously evaluating their outcomes" and "invest[ing] in those with the best results." We've heard this kind of general talk before so I'm hoping the end result is something substantive that can truly guide nonprofits and inspire people to get involved.
But what I'm really hoping for from the president is some consistency in his positions. Despite the event, the White House continues to press forward on its proposal to reduce the charitable tax deduction for taxpayers earning $200,000 or more annually.
AFP's eWire this week covers both the White House proposal and an alternate proposal being considered, but the bottom line is this: both will hurt fundraising during the most difficult giving environment the sector has experienced in decades. Demand for charitable services has increased exponentially as giving has gone down. It simply doesn't make sense to enact what amounts to a tax on charitable giving, even if it would apply until 2011.
AFP has issued a call to action, and I encourage everyone to contact their members of Congress and urge them to vote against these proposals. While we're excited about many of the president's ideas on philanthropy, these proposals are detrimental, and he needs to know where charities and fundraisers stand!