Public, Society Benefit

National Council of Nonprofits

Washington, DC   |  https://www.councilofnonprofits.org

Mission

The National Council of Nonprofits is a trusted resource and the leading advocate for America’s charitable nonprofits. Through our powerful network of state associations and 25,000-plus organizational members—the nation’s largest network of nonprofits—we serve as a central coordinator and mobilizer to help nonprofits achieve greater collective impact in local communities across the country. We identify emerging trends, share proven practices, and promote solutions that benefit charitable nonprofits and the communities they serve.

Ruling year info

1990

President and CEO

Mr. Tim Delaney

Main address

1001 G Street NW Suite 700 East

Washington, DC 20001 USA

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EIN

52-1689643

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

Nonprofit Management (S50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

To operate effectively, charitable nonprofits in local communities throughout the country need access to timely, trustworthy information on operational, legal, and capacity-building matters. Nonprofits also need an informed champion to evaluate public policy developments of common concern at the local, state, and federal levels. Then, they need an advocate—and a partner—in legislative bodies and regulatory agencies, and occasionally in the courts. Nimble advocacy is key, because policy proposals that hold enormous sway over the ability of nonprofits to succeed—such as imposing new taxes or burdensome regulations, or limiting charitable giving incentives—often erupt without warning, requiring swift, coordinated responses. Finally, charitable nonprofits need the public, policymakers, and the philanthropic community to understand how they operate, the challenges they face, and the value they contribute. The National Council of Nonprofits exists to meet those needs.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Advocating for a Supportive Policy Environment for the Work of Nonprofits

For every improvement in public policy that the nonprofit sector tries to advance, a hundred other proposed statutes, regulations, or court cases pop up that could impose severe burdens (often unintended, but still harmful) on nonprofits and the individuals they serve. Just as first responders like police and fire fighters don’t know in advance the timing, location, or type of emergency to which they must respond, we must respond at a moment’s notice when policy threats erupt. We are unique as the only nonprofit infrastructure group doing policy advocacy on an integrated basis, both vertically (local, state, and federal) and horizontally (legislative, executive, judicial) to identify, track, and act on policy challenges and opportunities at all levels. It’s our unique network that allows us to do that powerfully and successfully. Our goal is to keep our organization and core network strong and flexible enough to respond quickly, and knowledgeable enough to handle different policy emergencies. To frame both our proactive and defensive priorities, our board of directors, with input from our network, annually adopts a Public Policy Agenda. The Public Policy Agenda is a comprehensive list of policy issues that guides our work and provides other nonprofits across the country with vetted analyses on multiple issues they can use for a consistent position at the local, state, and federal levels.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

We identify, articulate, and share key messages through our network and other means, such as op eds, publications, journalists’ interviews, virtual and in-person presentations, and education for specific audiences that advise nonprofits (e.g., attorneys and accountants). For example, we publish the bi-weekly Nonprofit Advocacy Matters e newsletter (with more than 47,000 subscribers) and a monthly capacity-building e-newsletter, Nonprofit Knowledge Matters (with more than 25,000 subscribers). We write a weekly column for the Council on Foundations’ newsletter, Washington Snapshot, to keep the foundation community informed about state policy matters. We identify trends and share our “sense-making” insights by writing articles and op-eds published elsewhere, such as our annual public policy forecast published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Reporters in both the nonprofit industry press and the mainstream media turn to us frequently for our insights regarding nonprofit matters. In late 2019, we released a new report on the nonprofit sector, Nonprofit Impact Matters, with freshly updated data, a narrative that places the data in context, and a call to action for nonprofit staff, board members, volunteers, and donors to engage to protect their organizations, communities and individuals, and the sector itself (visit www.NonprofitImpactMatters.org to learn more).

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

At the heart of everything we do is our network of state associations of nonprofits and nonprofit allies. We intentionally nurture relationships between and among our state association members so they can connect and build their own capacities (as capacity-builders and advocates) by learning from the real experts – themselves. Among other things, we host an annual Network Learning Confab in Washington, D.C., with topics ranging from race, equity, diversity, and inclusion to ethics and accountability.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

In addition to building the strength, reach, and effectiveness of our network to support the work of nonprofits, we create and curate resources that directly strengthen the capacity of individual charitable nonprofits and raise awareness about issues impacting sustainability and mission effectiveness. We also push for a cultural shift throughout the sector so charitable nonprofits and their funders recognize that to advance their missions, nonprofits must engage in advocacy. We’re the trusted resource for the sector, with more than 1.4 million annual website visitors, 34,000+ Twitter followers, and 12,000+ Facebook fans (as of November 2019). We advance through multiple pathways our cutting-edge approach of promoting “everyday advocacy” and teaching others through applied advocacy on real-world matters. We collaborate with BoardSource as a co-founder of the “Stand for Your Mission” campaign to spread the expectation that board members engage in advocacy.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of periodical subscribers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This category includes subscriptions to our two e-newsletters: Nonprofit Advocacy Matters and Nonprofit Knowledge Matters (there is some overlap between the two).

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

General/Unspecified

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Our vision is a nation of sustainable, effective nonprofits that serve the public good by enriching communities and the lives of individuals. “Success" requires that charitable nonprofits have timely access to practical information and resources needed to advance their missions; that public policies support rather than injure the work of charitable nonprofits; and that nonprofit staff and board members, donors, and other stakeholders understand and embrace the role of advocacy to advance nonprofit missions. Our major goals for the next five to ten years include: • State associations of nonprofits and the larger nonprofit community will have a significantly increased capacity both to defend the sector against public policy threats at the federal, state, and local levels that would undermine the ability of charitable nonprofits to serve the common good, and to advance public policies that support that ability; • Charitable nonprofits will have an enhanced capacity to meet their missions through increased sustainability, enhanced financial management and governance practices that are ethical, transparent, and accountable, and building their advocacy skills; and • Increased public awareness about what charitable nonprofits are, what they do, and their vital role in contributing to a thriving culture and a healthy civil society will be measurably improved.

PUBLIC POLICY & ADVOCACY: We help create and protect a supportive policy environment for the work of charitable nonprofits by informing policymakers about proposals (at the local, state, and federal levels and in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches) while simultaneously building nonprofits’ capacity to engage in advocacy through our “applied advocacy” approach: hands-on, real-world opportunities and practice. An example of this “applied advocacy” approach is our ongoing campaign to protect nonprofit nonpartisanship (i.e., the Johnson Amendment), in which we have trained, coached, and encouraged hundreds of leaders and coordinated thousands of participating organizations. We also work with our network to create a “Defensive Shield,” protecting the 501(c)(3) community (charities and foundations) against pandemic policy threats (such as the threat to the Johnson Amendment that protects nonpartisanship) that, like an Ebola breakout, transcend the usual response systems and, while rare, seem to erupt each year and may last more than a year. REFRAMING PUBLIC CONVERSATIONS/COMMUNICATIONS & KNOWLEDGE: We inform public discourse about how nonprofits contribute to a thriving culture and a healthy civil society by identifying, articulating, and sharing key messages through the Council of Nonprofits’ networks, our multiple direct audiences, our media contacts, and other means. SUPPORT FOR NETWORK CAPACITY: We convene, coordinate, and provide state associations with the information and resources they need to strengthen their own capacities and to build the capacity of the nonprofits they serve. Currently, our highest-priority focus is on strengthening capacities to engage in policy; promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion; and leadership development. ADVANCING THE CAPACITY OF CHARITABLE NONPROFITS TO SERVE THE COMMON GOOD: We create and share resources that strengthen the capacities of individual nonprofits and raise awareness about sector-wide issues impacting sustainability and mission effectiveness. A few examples include our highly-viewed articles and web pages on “Board Roles and Responsibilities” and “Strategic Planning for Nonprofits,” and popular resources on timely issues such as “Race, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” and “Sexual Harassment in the Nonprofit Workplace.” We offer public webinars on breaking policy matters such one we offered in January 2018 on the 2017 federal tax law (attended live by more than 4,000 sites and viewed more than 12,000 additional times since). We’ve prepared materials to help nonprofits understand and apply the new U.S. Department of Labor overtime regulations released in September, 2019; more than 1,800 people registered for our webinar on the subject in early November 2019, which featured experts from the Department of Labor, the National Employment Law Project, and Venable Law Firm, to help nonprofits understand how the new regulations apply to them as employers and help them comply.

Our network covers the full spectrum of nonprofit missions, sizes, and geographical locations. Our unique structure provides us with access to real-time knowledge and information occurring “on the ground,” including the real-world challenges nonprofits face every day, giving us insight and data that are unparalleled in the sector. Our staff experts, who are seasoned professionals in nonprofit operations, advocacy, and law, analyze that exclusive blend of insight and data from the field and deploy it in a variety of ways, from sharing capacity-building knowledge with grassroots nonprofits to advocating at all levels of government. Others have recently recognized our staff’s expertise: Rick Cohen, Chief Communications Officer/Chief Operating Officer, was recognized as one of five Rising Star honorees at the 2018 Nonprofit CFO of the Year Awards. In September of 2019, VP of Public Policy David Thompson and President & CEO Tim Delaney were both honored as “NPT Power & Influence Top 50” by the Nonprofit Times, a rare exception as the publication has not recognized two staff members from the same organization in at least a decade. Our organization is unique because of, among other things, our one-of-a-kind nationwide grassroots network, our focus on serving the 97 percent of America’s nonprofits that are small and midsized community-based organizations, and our staff’s expertise and action-oriented mindset. We are unique as the only nonprofit infrastructure group doing policy advocacy on an integrated basis, both vertically (local, state, and federal) and horizontally (legislative, executive, judicial) to identify, track, and act on policy challenges and opportunities at all levels. It’s our unique network that allows us to do that powerfully and successfully. Our Team works not only with our formal members, but also with numerous colleague organizations, to develop the advocacy acumen, communications confidence, leadership skills, and operational capacity of individuals serving the nonprofit community. We collaborate closely with trusted partners such as BoardSource, United Way Worldwide, YMCA of the USA, YWCA USA, and many others, multiplying our impact and assisting those who seek our help. We promote civic engagement and democracy by participating actively in the nonpartisan National Voter Registration Day and nonpartisan Nonprofit VOTE (for which we host national meetings and serve on the National Leadership Council). This past year, we forged even deeper connections with the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Freedom and the National Association of State Charity Officials through multiple joint activities – most especially, protecting the Johnson Amendment.

To ensure that what we do matters, we embrace a culture of performance management. Being aware of what works—and what doesn't—fuels our continuous learning, allows us to try new ways to solve problems, and keeps our focus on what is most effective. We developed new measurement tools tailored for our unique networked environment that identify indicators of success and help us design the activities that we will focus on to advance our goals. Of course, for policy work, the main metric for measuring success is actually moving the policy needle. We track, for example, the success of our organization, our partners, and our network in influencing policy proposals at both the federal, state, and local levels, both proactive and defensive. On state legislation such as charitable giving incentives, nonprofit independence, property tax exemptions, and other issues, we track “bad” bills that would harm nonprofit missions and “good” bills that would advance nonprofit missions. On federal legislation, regulation, and occasional court cases, we keep track of not only attempts to enact or repeal legislation and regulations, but also indicators of progress such as number of signers on community letters; comments submitted on proposed regulations; attendance at policy calls, webinars, and special briefings; and other interim metrics to help us monitor progress. Among the many qualitative and quantitative indicators we use to monitor the engagement and capacity of our network are: To what extent is our network of state associations engaged in advocacy work on behalf of charitable nonprofits? To what extent does our network have policies and practices to develop policy agendas? To what extent does our network have the communications capacity to mobilize our broader network of charitable nonprofits? We monitor media mentions of our organization, our network, and our issues to assess how our messages are being conveyed to nonprofits and the public. We also track indicators of engagement by nonprofits directly with our materials and communications, including social media followers, newsletter subscribers, website visitors, feedback, and what content people are opening/sharing. Through these and other qualitative and quantitative measures, we continuously monitor how we’re doing, the capacity and engagement of our network, and to what extent nonprofits are engaging in advocacy to defend the policy environment and advance their missions.

We’re not a think tank or a trade association that just talks about what needs to be done: we do it. We focus on action, leading to outcomes that demonstrably improve the operating and policy environment on which all 501(c)(3) organizations rely. Here are some recent examples: We led the sector’s defense of the Johnson Amendment (which protects charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations from the rancor of partisan politics), rejecting multiple efforts by the President, Vice President, powerful members of Congress, and monied special interests to eviscerate it. As part of our multi-faceted strategy, we created a central platform for other national infrastructure groups and thousands of nonprofits, crafted templates used by nonprofits and foundations across the country to communicate with their elected federal officials and local media, and marshaled national media coverage that highlighted the danger of nonprofits being dragged down into the rancor of divisive partisanship. For three years, we’ve collectively prevailed. We helped preserve more than $1 billion in charitable contributions for local communities by coordinating strategies and tactics to defeat attempts by multiple states to repeal or cap charitable giving tax incentives. Recently, we helped enact and advance new legislation in several states that creates new state charitable giving incentives. We successfully negotiated to require that governments using federal funds to hire nonprofits must reimburse indirect costs. The nonprofit sector earns 1/3 of its entire revenue by performing government contracts. This new mandate, once fully implemented, will yield billions to nonprofits for work they have been performing but not been paid for. We mobilized nonprofits across the country to challenge the new 21% tax on nonprofit benefits. Our in-house experts gathered data from the field, analyzed the effects of the 2017 federal tax law, developed the legal and advocacy framing for the sector’s challenge, submitted detailed Comments to the IRS, Treasury Department, and Congress, and spread word throughout the sector to work towards a full repeal. We successfully led the sector’s opposition to a proposed IRS rule that nonprofits collect, report, and maintain the Social Security numbers of every individual donor, which would have substantially decreased charitable giving and imposed enormous liabilities on nonprofits by increasing donors’ exposure to identity theft. We led the sector’s multiyear efforts to ensure nonprofit employees are paid fairly by analyzing the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed changes to overtime rules, framing the issues, submitting comments and testimony, engaging with federal officials, and educating nonprofits on compliance. Some of these issues have been resolved; many are ongoing. For more detailed discussion of our public policy priorities, visit https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/public-policy-agenda.

Financials

National Council of Nonprofits
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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National Council of Nonprofits

Board of directors
as of 11/15/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Donna Murray-Brown

Michigan Nonprofit Association

Term: 2019 - 2023

Tim Delaney

National Council of Nonprofits

Doug Bauer

The Clark Foundation

Henry Berman

Exponent Philanthropy

Anne Hindery

Nonprofit Association of the Midlands

Liz Moore

Montana Nonprofit Association

Donna Murray-Brown

Michigan Nonprofit Association

Doug Sauer

New York Council of Nonprofits

Marnie Taylor

Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits

Kate Rubalcava

Utah Nonprofits Association

Laurie Wolf

The Foraker Group

Christine Ortega

Southwest Airlines

Jeanne Tedrow

North Carolina Center for Nonprofits

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Keywords

nonprofit, membership, policy, capacity building, advocacy, sector, infrastructure, data